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Better Backup

A few years ago my (not so old at the time) Dell suffered a hard drive failure.

My entire relationship with my wife - from our first date on - was digital. I’d stopped using film years ago. And all those files were on the hard drive that had just failed.

Fortunately, I had just started using a backup drive a month or so earlier, and my data was saved.

But in reading Mat Honan’s tale of massive data loss after his iCloud account was hacked and all his devices were remotely wiped, I realized the importance of redundancy in a backup plan. Mat eventually recovered about 80 percent of his data - after spending around $1,700.

There’s a simple way to avoid Mat’s pain: store duplicate copies of your data.

You can make this really complicated if you want to - with intricate redundant systems - but it doesn’t have to be. Two common and simple methods:

  1. Use two encrypted backup drives. Keep one at your house and use it weekly, and lock the other in your desk at work. Every month, switch them.
  2. Use a backup drive weekly, and keep it at your house. Then use an automatic service like Mozy (disclosure: an EMC company) or Blackblaze to automatically backup your files in the cloud.

If you’re really serious about avoiding data loss, combine both methods. The important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t rely on a single location or drive for your data. Diversify.

Could you still lose data this way? Sure. But you greatly reduce your chances.