The first lesson is simple: if you’re not backing up, you’re doing it wrong.

Today is apparently World Backup Day. Who declared it that, I haven’t a clue, but I fully support their mission. The facts are: hard drives die, computers get misplaced, accidents happen. The best way to insulate yourself against data loss is by enacting a comprehensive backup strategy to keep your data safe. Given our dependence on our devices and our data, it isn’t an option anymore to not backup your Mac. Fortunately with your Macs and iOS devices, backing up properly is surprisingly easy to do, to both local and cloud-based options.

Local Mac Backups

Though relatively pricey, Apple’s Time Capsule is a set it and forget it option for backing up all the Macs on your WiFi network. No need to plug your Mac in to anything to begin the backup process, once it’s all set up, just turn on your Mac and the Time Capsule will begin backing up wirelessly. If you don’t need wireless backup, or only have one Mac that you need to backup, Mac OS X’s built in Time Machine feature will backup your Mac to any local external drive. Setup couldn’t be any easier: just plug in the external drive for the first time, and your Mac will automatically ask if you want to use it for Time Machine backups. Say yes, and you’re good to go. As long as that drive is plugged in, Time Machine backups will happen at a regular interval. Do keep in mind that if you’re on a laptop and unplug the external Time Machine drive, it will stop backing up.

Time Machine Backup

Time Machine backups couldn’t be easier to setup. Just click “Use as Backup Disk” and you’re all set.

One cool thing about using Time Machine is that it will keep older versions of the same file. Say you realize you need the version of the script you were working on last week, chances are if Time Machine was running, you can just “go back in time” and restore the old version.

Another backup method is creating a nightly clone of your primary hard drive. What’s ideal about this method is that the moment your primary drive dies, you can just reboot with the clone and be back up and running in minutes. If you’re dependent on your Mac and can’t afford an instant of downtime, this is your best option. Go one better and have two rotating drives for clones, and take one off site each night. That way, even if tragedy were to strike and you were to have your house burned down or have your equipment stolen, you’d only lose any data that was created in the last 48-hours or so. Both Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper are the go-to apps for drive cloning

There are plenty of great hard drive options out there, but my personal favorite these days is the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt Drive. With 1TB of storage, super-fast USB 3.0, and Apple’s über-fast Thunderbolt connectivity, if you have a newer Mac, you’ll have your daily data backed up in seconds. Also, the LaCie’s rubberized housing provides an extra layer of protection against bumps, falls and other common hard drive mishaps. If you have an older Mac, the Thunderbolt drive can connect via USB2, and while a far cry in speed from the newer options, it’ll get the job done and be ready for the future when the time comes to update your Mac.

Cloud Backups

With the numerous options available today for cloud backup, and the competitiveness between them all, now is the perfect time to sign up for an account to serve as yet another redundant backup option. You have your local Time Machine/Time Capsule backup, an offsite clone of your primary drive, so all you need now is a cloud backup to be fully covered. The services are generally comparable, with a local client application that allows you to specify what gets backed up and when, as well as managing the restore functionality. The cloud services operate on a monthly fee basis that is often tiered based on the volume of data you wish to backup.

 If you take one thing away from your time here reading through the Tech Haven website, let it be the extreme importance of backing up up your data.

Of all the options MozyiDrive, and Carbonite are among the most popular cloud backup services these days. Compare each one and see which service works best for your specific needs, and set it up right away. You never know when a data disaster could strike, so best get yourself prepared ASAP so you don’t regret it later.

iOS Backups

Now that you’re backing up your Mac regularly, make sure you don’t forget about backing up your iPhone and iPad too. An easy way to do this is by enabling Apple’s iCloud backup. To do this, launch the Settings app, select the iCloud tab, scroll down to the bottom of the window and tap on Storage & Backup. Once there you’ll see the following screen:

iCloud Backup

Just toggle the iCloud backup switch to On, and your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch will automatically backup to your iCloud account whenever it’s connected to a WiFi network and charging. Considering the frequency that these iDevices get dropped, misplaced or even stolen, it’s abundantly clear that you need to be backing them up whenever possible. If you’re not an iCloud user, at the very least plug your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch into your Mac once every couple days, launch iTunes and run a sync. This will create a backup of your iDevice on your Mac, and allow you to do a restore from that backup in the event your device needs to be replaced for one reason or another.

Generally speaking, until you’ve personally lost a sizable chunk of your data, you can’t fully appreciate the depth of loss, frustration and regret that people often feel when it happens to them. Far too many of our new clients aren’t backing up correctly, frequently enough, or often at all, and that’s potentially tragic. If you take on thing away from your time here reading through the Tech Haven website, let it be the extreme importance of backing up up your data. Take our advice, you’ll appreciate it later.