When was the last time you made a backup of your computer files?

**UPDATE - August 22, 2015: This post is pretty old, but the basics hold true. The major change is not long after I wrote this Mozy changed their business model and was no longer unlimited. At that time, I changed my backup to Backblaze and have been very happy with it (I made a note of it in the comments). I have it running on two machines and have had to recover from a major issue with no problem. I have suggested to others as well and have had great success with Backblaze.

Backups. They seem easy enough. Copy some files onto another disk. Put them somewhere safe. Rinse and repeat every so often.

Like I said, easy enough, right?

Last week I got an opportunity to test my own backup plan when the hard drive in my home desktop machine died. Friday morning, I was greeted with a large flashing question-mark folder on my almost four-year-old 24" iMac. Not what you want to wake up to!

The good news is, after replacing the hard drive, I was back in business very quickly. I was 100 percent operational again, before dinner Friday night thanks to Apple's set-it-and-forget-it backup system built into OS X, Time Machine. It would have been faster if it wasn't for the fact I was out most of the day.

Time Machine, if you don't know and I suspect most (even Mac users) don't, is a program that continuously backs up your hard drive onto an external hard drive. It's an Apple-only program that comes with OS X. You plug an external hard drive into your machine, OS X asks to use it as a Time Machine drive and the rest is automatic. Every hour or so when your machine is on, the software does a backup of changed files. There are customizable features but there is no reason to really change anything.

So, back to my case, the most recent backup was from the night before, so once I got the new hard drive in the machine, I booted off of the 10.6 disk, pointed it to the Time Machine backup and let it roll. It restored the machine back to exactly how it was the previous night, sans the dying drive.

I then re-set up Time Machine (I used a different external drive just because) and I was back in business!

This solution works great in a situation (Mac where something went wrong with a piece of hardware), but it got me thinking about my PC and what would happen if something physically happens at my home. What would I do in the case of the PC drive dying or a fire in the house (heaven forbid)?

One solution I've looked at but to be honest have only used the free version of is Mozy. With Mozy, you install an application on your machine (Mac or PC), point it at what you want to backup and it automatically backs it up to the Internet. The free version of Mozy Home starts you with 2GB of storage... not enough to backup your whole computer, but maybe some very important parts. The paid version is $4.95/month (discounts for longer terms) for unlimited-space backup of one machine. There is a Pro version as well.

I'm thinking about using the paid version of Mozy Home to back up the PC. If I end up doing that, I'll pass along what I learn.

Backblaze is another option.

Bottom line is this... I had important files and un-replaceable images on my computer, then my hard drive died. Because I had done some pre-panning, my backup plan came through with flying colors.


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