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Why Time Machine Isn't Enough to Protect Your Data

and How to Create a Reliable Backup Strategy

Bill Clark Logo, Green and White, logo on left.

If you haven't experienced data loss yourself, you've probably heard horror stories from friends who've lost everything when a hard drive died.

Think about how much we store these days. Photos of life's important moments, financial documents, tax documents, receipts, business records, and more. Most of us store nearly everything on our computers. How do you protect all that information?

A Little About Me

Over the last 20+ years, I worked in IT operations & support at a large company. During that time, I worked on at least 100 hard drive failures. I've seen years of data disappear in an instant with the loss of a hard drive.

I've even paid thousands of dollars to one of those data recovery companies—more than once—only to find each time that nothing could be recovered.

We quickly learned to limit the impact of disk failure to a day of downtime at the most by using a reliable backup strategy. If you're using your operating system's built-in backup tool, you're already halfway there!

Crafting a Backup Strategy

If you're putting effort and money into backing up your data, you want that backup to be reliable. You want your data protected and accessible when disaster strikes. Your operating system's built-in backup tool is only half of the equation, though.

Think about how that backup solution works. You're probably backing up your data to an external hard drive. That external hard drive is probably sitting on the desk next to the computer. Or worse, stuffed in the back of a drawer and only connected when you think of it.

This on-site backup is great if you accidentally delete a file and need to restore it, and that's really what they designed Time Machine for—protection from accidental loss.

But what happens if both your computer and external drive get damaged or stolen? When they're both stored in the same location, that's a risk.

Enter Cloud Backups

By using an online cloud backup solution along with your local backup, you're addressing the risk of storing your backup disk with your computer. Adding a cloud backup to the mix is easier (and less expensive) than you think.

I prefer BackBlaze, but there are other options like CrashPlan, Carbonite, and iDrive. I recommend BackBlaze because of its set-it-and-forget-it approach. For $70/year per machine, BackBlaze provides the following benefits:

  • Unlimited data storage

  • Backs up external hard drives (there's a catch on this one which I'll explain below)

  • Backs up everything on the computer by default: no worrying about which folders to back up.

  • Faster data restoration by hard drive: If downloading it would take too long, they can ship you a hard drive with your data on it.

About that catch above: When backing up your external hard drives, you must connect them at least once every 30 days. If you don't, the backup for that external drive gets deleted.

(A quick note: I'm not affiliated with BackBlaze, and the links above are not affiliate links. I'm just a happy BackBlaze user.)

The Result: Redundant Protection

Combining a local backup solution like Time Machine and a cloud backup like BackBlaze, you're protecting your data in two places: at home (or in your office) and off-site in the cloud.

This redundancy provides you the convenience of quick data restores when needed, plus the insurance of having your data stored in a second, secure location.

Even if your computer and backup drive get stolen, lost, or damaged, your data remains protected and accessible to you.

That's all for this week; thanks for reading!

Talk to you next week!