Don’t be an April Fool—Back Up Today!

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #377

World Backup Day has passed  (March 31), but this is still a good time for my annual admonishment about backups, namely: If you don’t have a backup, your files could disappear forever in the blink of an eye.

don't be an April fool

When I wrote my first book, Dr. Macintosh (1989; Addison-Wesley), I said,

“There are only two kinds of Mac users — those who have lost data, and those who will lose data.”

I’ve been saying it for three decades, and while I think many (if not most) Mac users have gotten the message by now, some still have not.

According to World Backup Day, around 30% of computer users have never backed up. If that describes you, I’ve got bad news: You are going to lose all your stuff.

Notice that I don’t mince words by saying you might or could lose everythingI said you’re going to lose everything because without a backup you’re absolutely and positively going to lose all your files someday.

All Disks Fail (Eventually)

All hard and solid-state disks (and other storage media) fail eventually. There’s no question about that, the only question is when they will fail.

If you’ve been reading this column for a while, you know I am obsessive about redundant backups. But, in spite of relating the horrors of losing all your data at least once a year in my column, I still hear from readers and friends all the time, telling tales of woe about the data that they lost and the backup they were planning to make soon.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Take the Pledge

The World Backup Day pledge says: “I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31st. I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day – friends don’t let friends go without a backup.”

I encourage you to take the pledge if you don’t have a backup, but in my opinion, one backup isn’t good enough. So, in 2018 I proposed we rename April Fools Day World Redundant Backup Day: No Fooling because one backup is never enough.

If you’re a nut about backups like I am, take this opportunity to talk to your friends and family members. Help them keep their precious data safe if you can. Remind them a single power surge or lightning strike could fry their entire disk or Mac. And, remind them they could lose everything—every photo, video, document, and every other file on their Mac—in a heartbeat.

Do it While You Have The Time

I know we have bigger fish to fry these days, but this is important too. So, please remind your parents, children, friends, neighbors, and anyone else you care about that World Backup Day and World Redundant Backup Day: No Fooling have come and gone. Then, be a hero by offering to help them create a reliable redundant backup system.

I created yet another short public service video (under 2 minutes) on the importance of redundant backups, which you can watch (or share).

Finally, please tune in again next week for the thrilling conclusion, with tips, hints, and techniques for creating reliable backup systems.

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W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Bob: Humorous but apposite title, and a message that never goes out of season. While I have triple redundancy in my own backup regimen, including a total virtual backup on CrashPlan (business), I hadn’t really looked into my wife’s regimen in some time. For the longest, she was using her workplace Dell laptop as required by the university, and deliberately avoided using her MBA. Now that she is no longer working there, but working from home, I had to update her Mac’s software etc and realised, she needs a serious backup overhaul. I’m always alerting my household to software updates… Read more »

Years ago Crashplan had a great plan that allowed multiple family members to join and back up the whole family’s computers. They pretty much abandoned personal users though and appear now to just offer business plans. I’ve been very impressed with Backblaze. Not affiliated in any way, for the record. But I look at the cost as cheap insurance, not to mention the timesaving of the simplicity of cloud backup. Good article here on Backup vs. Sync: Look Before You Sync: Cloud Backup Vs. Cloud Sync Bob mentions the move to tablet-only users now…that’s a tricky one. I guess… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Bartholomew: Those are all excellent points. BackBlaze is a great platform, and one of those that TMO have recommended as an option, if memory serves. Crash plan came recommended to me from multiple sources years ago, including Dave Hamilton here on TMO, and switching to the business plan was for me a no brainer. Given that my work takes me all over the planet, I really need a reliable but secure cloud back up service. The business plan allows me to back my wife’s computer as well, so I’m thrilled. As for iPadOS and iOS backups, so far iCloud has… Read more »

hi wab95, Sorry wasn’t trying to hate on Crashplan, just musing that a previous offering was ideal for a family. I’ll have to look closer at their offerings to see if they might fit better for a couple, than separate plans with Backblaze or similar. I’m an airline pilot (international routes only, currently grounded) so I too travel…a bit! So I have also had a good chance to test cloud solutions. As you say, for the most part they work wonderfully. Except occasionally when they don’t. 😉 If you are backing up tablet/phone solely to iCloud, I assume you’re paying… Read more »

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

Preach on, brother. Even the converted need revival from time to time. As for the cloud storage, yes, I purchase extra storage on iCloud. The first time the robustness of the iCloud backup for iOS became apparent to me was a visit to the Apple store, as I walked out with a reset device, had everything restored by the time I reached my car (okay, got a coffee on the way, but you get the point). I now keep what I do on the iPad in the cloud (eg Pages) and make an iPad – dedicated backup from my Mac… Read more »

A robust backup strategy is more complex than people think. Here’s mine. “Last Resort” backup: I keep an encrypted disk image with the current copies of my absolute most critical files: my Banktivity data file (finances), Password Wallet (passwords), various spreadsheets with inventory of possessions, LogTen Pro data file (my entire aviation career record), scans of legal documents and similar. I group these files in a single (regular) folder for ease of copying into the disk image. Once a month I upload this file to my web server. These are the files that even if every single other thing was… Read more »


Thanks. Best backup applications for Mac? Best backup strategy?