After reading Mat Honan's terrifying tale about being hacked (hard) and losing all of his data, it again reminded me how few people back up despite how trivial it is. Mat lost:
- His entire iPhone restore data.
- His entire iPad restore data.
- Access to all his Gmail email.
And probably much more. This included photos which I'm assuming were priceless. And he didn't have any recent backups. This should be a warning to everyone currently running without a backup.
Thankfully, this is a pretty easy and cheap thing to remedy. Here's what I'd recommend:
Buy an external harddrive and use Time Machine, which is included with every Mac. This will back up your computer continuously so long as you've got the drive connected. This will give you a local backup of all your data, and aside from the initial (and small) cost of an external harddrive, won't incur any ongoing costs. This also means when your computer goes belly up (and that's a when, not if) you'll have a copy of your data close by. Unfortunately, this does not protect you if your home is robbed or if your computers are damaged in some kind of natural disaster. And more importantly, most people rarely connect their external backup drives anyway. If you don't back up regularly, you might as well not be doing it at all.
So additionally, I'd highly recommend signing up for an internet-based service like Crashplan or Backblaze. I've been using Crashplan for close to a year now and it offers me unlimited backup storage for $5 per month. That's a pretty awesome price for the peace of mind a third-party backup brings. These services continuously backup your computer to the internet, where your data is encrypted and copied many times over. This means if something happens to your computers, you can always restore no matter how bad the damage. You'll never lose your data.
I've been happy with Crashplan so far, but Backblaze looks just as good (if not better). Evaluate them both and pick one.