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Going Paperless Part 5 - Backing up your data

OrganizationEdward Kiledjian1 Comment
Image by Martinluf under creative commons license

Image by Martinluf under creative commons license

First go here and read my article on the 3-2-1 backup rule.

There are 2 types of backups:

  • Offline backups
  • Online backups
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An Offline backup is simple, it is an external hard disk or USB key you use to periodically keep an extra copy of your data. As an example you plug it in once a week to copy the information over then unplug it. The problem with this model is that you may forget to backup your data or the data loss may happen just before you back it up therefore you may lose all the data you created since your last backup.

An Online backup comes in 2 forms:

  • Hot online backup 
  • Cold online backup

For Mac users, a hot online backup is like Time Machine or Dropbox (for everyone). This is a drive that is mapped to your computer where the information stored therein is replicated out to the cloud.

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With the recent rash of Cryptolocker, we learned about the risks associated with hot online backups. This is certainly a better option than no backup but Cryptolocker discovered these backups (because they have mapped drives) and proceeded to encrypt your information unless you paid their ransom. 

Cold Online backups are services like (Carbonite, Backblaze or Crashplan) that backup your data using a local agent (and not by mapping a drive letter on your computer). These types of backups provide the benefit of a second or third copy of your data and they protect you from malware like Cryptolocker because these nasties can't directly access your backed up info to harm them. Plus since these backups are automated and near-time after a file is changed or added, there is no risk of forgetting to backup.

My recommendation is to follow the 3-2-1 rule mentioned in my other article. My setting is something like this.

  1. My main data is on my computers SSD.
  2. I replicate that document management structure in Evernote as a second copy
  3. I backup my information to an always connected external hard drive (third copy)
  4. I backup my information to Backblaze (fourth cold online backup)

Cryptolocker  is charging around $300 to recover you files but you could have bought 1 year of online cold backup (from any of the 3 listed above) for about $50 per year. Unfortunately once disaster strikes, your options are more limited and typically everything costs more (paying the ransom, sending your drive to a data recovery lab, etc). So backup first and backup often.