How to Back Up Everything--From Phones to Flash Drives to Websites

It’s that time of the year again: my backup service announcement! When was the last time you backed up your desktop? Laptop? Phone? Flash drive? Website?

Eric Escobar
5-minute read
Episode #176

OK, so I’ve done plenty of episodes on backing up your computer, but often times, you get busy, and a backup, which doesn’t seem that exciting, always goes down to the bottom of your to-do list.

I’ve resolved myself to put a new spin on backup with a new episode because it is so important

This week, we are going to talk about backing up everything.

First, what is a backup? Well, a backup is simply when you keep your data in more than one place. A backup can be as simple as a flash drive you manually copy your files to once a week. Or it could be as complicated as nightly, weekly, and monthly backups of a server to multiple offsite locations.

The goal of a backup is to make sure that if something happens to your data from either a broken/stolen computer or hard drive, you have an easily accessible copy of it somewhere else.

So, let’s talk about the easy one: your desktop. Your desktop and laptop computers are by far the easiest to back up because there are so many solutions out there. The two best that I’ve seen are Carbonite and Crashplan. I personally use Crashplan, but both are pretty great.

When you create a backup, it’s recommended to store that backup somewhere other than the location of your original. For example, I’ve had a friend who kept their backup disk with their laptop. When their laptop bag got stolen, so did their backup.

This also matters if something were to happen to your home or office, such as a fire, flood, or another natural disaster. If your data is in two different physical locations, the odds that something is going to happen to it are slim to none.

The second step to that is to make sure backups happen regularly. That could mean you have an alarm on your phone or that a backup is always scheduled to happen. I always recommend to backup automatically because life will get in the way if you try to do it manually, and then backups stop happening. A friend of mine just lost a phone. When I asked, “Did you have a backup” he said “Oh yes, from two years ago.”

The best-selling feature of Crashplan and Carbonite are that they are automatic and offsite. I can backup my computer and laptop automatically to Crashplan’s datacenter. I will get alerts when backups complete, and alerts when a computer hasn’t been backed up in a while. Now just so we are clear, Crashplan has a program for almost every operating system.

OK, I’ve talked enough about desktops and laptops. Let’s talk about the less often backed up devices, such as phones and flashdrives. Phones are one of the worst culprits of not being backed up and in this time of summer and pool parties, all it takes is a single shove in the water to lose pictures, texts, and other important data.

The worst part is how easy it is to backup. If you have an Android, most of your information, such as contacts, settings, and account information, will be backed up automatically. However, I recommend setting up Google photos to sync all of your pictures to your Google account. I’ve found that photos are one of the most lost pieces of data, and with Google photos, you get unlimited free storage of videos and pictures. Then, for everything else, find a backup app, such as Titanium Backup, which makes sure that you keep everything on your phone.

If you have an iPhone, I recommend setting up regular iCloud backups. If you don’t want to pay for anything over 5GB of iCloud space, then I recommend setting up manual backups by plugging your phone into your computer and backing it up manually. The nice thing is that iCloud backups happen automatically when your phone is charging and connected to WiFi.

They also have a new Google photos app for iOS that will automatically backup your pictures and videos to your Google account. It’s pretty great, free to use, and only takes a couple minutes of set up. It’s a quick and dirty insurance policy on your pictures!

Next up is flashdrives. Believe it or not, this is one of the most common items that someone doesn’t backup. People typically use flashdrives as a quick way of transporting information. The bad thing that begins to happen though is that data will accumulate on a flashdrive for months and months and never be backed up.

The unfortunate thing about this is that there is no ‘duh’ solution for backing up a hard drive. The best thing that I have found is to backup manually by dragging and dropping. There is a program called Allway Sync that I’ve used in the past, but its free version is limited and it’s not the most straight forward piece of software. If you know of a better tool to make this happen, please shoot me an email. I’d love to know about it. At this point in time, it seems like the best way to keep a flashdrive backed up is to manually move it yourself.

Last but certainly not least is to back up your website if you have one. This is as simple as going into your site and copying all of the files off to somewhere else. However, if you use WordPress there is the aptly named BackUpWordPress plugin, and all of the other major hosts such as SquareSpace, BlueHost, GoDaddy, and Network Solutions all have affordable backup soltuions that are well worth their cost if they save you once, or just let you sleep a little easier!.

With that, here are your Quick and Dirty Tips to staying backed up:

1)      Make sure your data is in more than one location. If your data is physically separated from the original, you’re better off.

2)      Try to make as many of your backups as automated as possible. It will make your life so much easier, and less prone to errors.

3)      Keep your phone and pictures safe with Google photos and keep your phone regularly backed up to your computer or a cloud solution of your choice in case it decides to take a fall or a swim.

4)      Make sure that you have a solution that works for you to keep odd items, such as websites and thumbdrives, backed up.

Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple! 

Back up data image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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