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Back Up Your Files Now

fire

Last week, you might have seen the story of a devastating fire in a residential neighborhood in New Orleans, and how Gideon Hodge, who “describes himself as a playwright, novelist, and actor” ran into his burning home “when he realized that his only copies of two completed novels were on a laptop inside.”

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[source: Matthew Hinton, The New Orleans Advocate]

Don’t be this guy.

He survived, and he got his laptop out. But most of us wouldn’t even have the chance to try to rescue a laptop, or a failing hard drive, because if a natural disaster occurs, or a pipe bursts and floods your office, you might not be there. Or, far more likely, it’s just that you turn on your computer and nothing happens. You slowly realize that the small clicking noise it had been making for a while had been a symptom you had overlooked. Or maybe it happens with no warning at all.

Equipment — no matter how expensive, no matter how lovingly tended — sometimes fails. Don’t rely on your computer to preserve all your work. 

Don’t email yourself files of important documents and consider your stuff backed up. Don’t trust your current view of what’s important to cover your future needs to access materials lost by an equipment crash. There will undoubtedly be something you forgot to manually back up. That’s why automatic cloud backup solutions are so valuable.

Don’t rely on a folder synchronization service like Dropbox for all your backups. Although folder synch is useful for certain situations, like sharing items with colleagues, these tools are not designed as full-fledged backup solutions, and so it’s too easy to accidentally change or delete files, and often difficult to retrieve the past versions. (As Jason recently pointed out, you might also want to be concerned about Dropbox’s approach to permissions if you’re a Mac user.)

So, what should you do? Select one of the many online cloud backup solutions currently available and give your future self the gift of not having to worry when disaster strikes.  A good online backup solution will cover all your devices, allow you to recover deleted or altered files, provide encrypted, truly secure privacy, and allow you to choose select folders and drives to back up from your machines. Most will also provide robust file synchronization and other features.

Here are some good options, most starting at about $5 a month for personal accounts:

Here’s a comparison chart outlining the features of these and a few others as of February 2016.

It matters much less which one of these providers you choose, than that you start backing your files up now. Remember Gideon Hodge and go sign up for backup. Your future self will thank you.

[Creative Commons license image from Flickr user Susanne Nilsson]

What has held you back from establishing a good backup solution? Let us know in the comments!

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