It’s pretty amazing these days how easy it is to back up all your personal computer data in case of the unknown: hard drive crash, computer stolen, or even worse your whole house burns up! Should something like this ever happen and you’re not backing up your data then all your captured photos and videos of your family childhood or vast collection of media will exist only as a memory. Perhaps gone is gone should the unfortunate ever happen however I’d like to at least be prepared.
This story doesn’t contain any hard drive crash drama to motivate you to back up your data. This is just a simple public service announcement to remind you to back up your data before you wish you had.
My primary choice of local backup is not very complicated, which I think is a good thing since it should be a simple process that just runs itself. For my local backups, I use Apple’s built in tool native to OS X called ‘Time Machine’ to backup our mac mini (functions only as a media server for PLEX purposes), a macbook air (wife’s computer), and my personal macbook pro. I feel good about this setup, because it felt as if I was living on the edge since I was only backing up my personal macbook pro and nothing else until recently. So, I finally invested in a couple of Seagate Expansion 5TB Desktop External Hard Drive USB 3.0 recently to get my act together and backed up all my macs wirelessly using my Apple Airport Extreme router.
Check out this video to learn more about how to configure your Mac to use Time Machine:
Now that I have all my machines backed up routinely, I’ve been in discussion with myself if I should invest in a second local backup of all my data just in case these drives should experience failure. I have yet to come to a decision since the hardest challenge for me was affording all the external terabytes of storage space to back everything up. With that said, I decided I would invest in online cloud storage first since it’s more affordable for me at the moment. It’s also said that you should have an offsite (cloud) storage solution anyway in case of a local emergency with your backups such as fire in your house, theft, or hard drive failure on those backup drives. So, even though the purpose of a local back up of your data is to be prepared for these scenarios and for speed should you need to restore, technically the rule includes to keep these backups off site as well.
The online cloud backup solution I chose was BackBlaze, because not only are they affordable at only $5 a month ($50 a year), they are fairly quick to receive my data with my upload speeds. It should be mentioned that their services includes unlimited cloud storage which made $5 a month a completely affordable option.
- Unlimited data backup, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited file size
- Wired/plugged-in/connected external Firewire, Thunderbolt or USB drive (not networked drives such as: NAS, timemachine drives, bootcamp drives, virtual machines, mounted volumes).
- Military-Grade Encryption
- Native integrated preference menu within PC/Mac OSX Settings
- Continuous Backup
- Automatically Finds Files
- Automatic Throttle (you have complete control of this option)
- Locate Lost Computer (should your computer become stolen, backblaze can function like a lo-jack)
- iOS Mobile App (since I have my entire mac backed up in the cloud, even if I need a particular file deep in my file system I can use the iOS app to locate any single file backed up or multiple files directly from Backblaze servers. That itself is pretty nice! Note: I’m not sure if a Windows Phone 8 app exists, but if you have a BackBlaze installed on your Windows OS and own an iOS device, you can access your Windows files from BackBlaze cloud storage using the BackBlaze iOS app.)
- Free Web Restore
- Restore to USB Hard Drive or Flash Drive
- Personal Key/Passphrase (for additional security)
- File versioning (up to 30 days not continuous/forever)
- Just $5/month
There is no need to select the folders and filetypes you want to backup, which means all your data will be backed up without having to do anything. However, although BackBlaze backs up all your data there is an exception to your operating system files, applications, or temporary files. This means these files won’t be backed up: wab~, vmc, vhd, vdi, vo1, vo2, vsv, vud, iso, dmg, sparseimage, sys, cab, exe, msi, dll, dl_, wim, ost, o, qtch, log, ithmb, vmdk, vmem, vmsd, vmsn, vmss, vmx, vmxf, menudata, appicon, appinfo, pva, pvs, pvi, pvm, fdd, hds, drk, mem, nvram, hdd.
I started my first backup on May 5 and set my computer within the BackBlaze settings menu to backup my data by turning off throttling for maximum upload speeds. This translated to 58GB a day at 5.55Mbps. It took about 7 days to complete my first initial backup of 200,353 files out of 270,593 files. So, there were 70,240 files not backed up which were probably applications files, OS files and temp files as mentioned above. Now that my first backup is complete, I’ve changed my upload speed to automatic throttling that way I’m not uploading as much now so quickly.
Here’s a snap shot of what my data usage was for the month of May as result of my BackBlaze upload according to my Comcast data usage who is my Internet Service Provider. Comcast states they suspended their 250GB monthly cap, so I’m pretty grateful that I didn’t run into any issues. However, I did this to myself by setting the maximum upload of all my data with BackBlaze. If I only wanted to have 2GB a day upload instead of 58GB then this is possible within a simple little menu found in BackBlaze settings. So, at the end of the day, you should first be aware if there are any restrictions your ISP has set on your account if you increase your upload speeds like I did.
There is so far one draw back I found to this awesome backup solution and that is if you have more than one computer. If you’re like me and have multiple computers to back up then, it’s going to cost you a little bit more as there is no bulk discount feature for multiple computers at this time. So each additional computer functions as an individual license to backup each computer to the cloud. However, there are other services such as CrashPlan that offers a family plan at $9 a month for up to 10 machines, but its app is a Java application therefore is not native install to the OS and requires a lot of resources and memory intensive as a result. You can read more about CrashPlan here from actual users in the comments section.
With all of that said, should you need more convincing to invest in a cloud storage or at least BackBlaze, then take a peak at BackBlaze’s matrix as they compare their services to the many competitors that exist on the market.
If you made it to the bottom of this article and you’re very interested in moving forward, then here’s a gift idea I found for you. You can purchase a 1 yr license at 50% off for your first year. This means it will only cost you $25 your first year of cloud backup. This deal is only for new customers and this deal will only be available 3 days from today. BackBlaze does come with a free 14 day trial, so you can get started and try it out, but I promise you won’t be disappointed. I signed up for this discount just a few minutes ago as my free 14 day trial was about to expire tomorrow. Try to get this deal in before it expires. Even if you’re not ready to make the purchase, if you know someone who should be backing up then help them out with this gift idea. Father’s day is just around the corner and this could actually be a great gift idea. Remember, you only have 3 days starting from June 3, 2014 to get your 50% off deal.
Here’s a quick tour of BackBlaze: