Resolve to Protect Your Data in 2015

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves

Episode #104

There are only two kinds of Mac users: Those who have lost data, and those who will. It’s sad that so many users still don’t start backing up until after they’ve lost irreplaceable files. You’ve heard me say it year in and year out, but at least some of you are not paying attention. How do I know? Well, in 2014 (as in previous years), one of the most common issues (if not the most common issue) reported by our clients is a crashed hard or solid-state drive.

As 2014 draws to a close and you start thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2015, consider this indisputable fact: Your hard drive is going to crash. Perhaps it won’t crash in 2015, but I guarantee you that it will die a horrible death someday. And when that happens — and it will —  chances are good that all the precious data it contained will be gone.

Trust me on this, folks — if you don’t back up those files, you’re going to lose them. Think for a moment of all the one-of-a-kind photos, videos, and other documents that only exist on your hard drive…

Now consider a hardware failure that makes them “none-of-a-kind.”

Adopting a comprehensive backup strategy with multiple backups stored in multiple locations is the best way to avoid data loss. That being said, any backup routine — even just dragging important files onto a CD, DVD, or other disk — is better than no backup routine at all.

If nothing else, get an external hard disk and use Time Machine, which has been included with OS X since time immemorial (a.k.a., OS X 10.5 Leopard), for your backups. Time Machine copies every file on your hard disk to a second hard disk (or wirelessly to a Time Capsule) and then, once an hour,  determines which files have changed and copies just those files to the backup disk. And, if you desire an even greater level of Time Machine protection, just attach additional external hard drives. Time Machine knows to back up to each of them in turn, round-robin style, thus providing the additional peace of mind that comes from having multiple backups, but without having to buy or configure third-party backup software.


Having a Time Machine backup lets you sleep better at night (image via Apple HT201250).

Even with two Time Machine backup disks, I worry about having a single point of failure (i.e. Time Machine stops working). That's why I also use CrashPlan to make continuous on and off-site backups of my Home folder, and Carbon Copy Cloner runs every morning at 2AM, creating a bootable clone. I rotate my Time Machine, CrashPlan, and Carbon Copy Cloner backup disks at least once a month, and I always keep one copy in a safe deposit box at the bank. That way I'm covered even if my home office and all my local backups are destroyed.

Last, but not least, regardless of the system(s) you use, it’s important to test its restore functionality every so often, to ensure that things work as expected.

I sleep better knowing that my data will survive almost any eventuality short of a nuclear attack on Austin, TX. You'll sleep better, too, knowing your data is safe.

Just do it.

Have a happy, healthy,  safe New Years!

And that’s all he wrote…