If my life were a movie complete with sound effects, it would be pretty loud. There would be singing, and lots of typing and clicking noises, and one sound that, if it were audible, you’d hear every hour or so: the beeping of a truck backing up.
Only it’s not a truck that backs up every hour, it’s my computer’s hard drives. That’s right. Not just one drive: drives, as in plural. I work fast and backup is essential. It should be for you too. Why cause yourself useless anxiety when you can easily automate all of your backups! I’ve written about this before, these backups and copies are all scheduled so I don’t even have to think about it, and so I can concentrate on my work! Here’s my schedule, your mileage may vary:
Every 15 Minutes
1) Sync and backup shared work files: We use Egnyte, one of many cloud-based online storage and collaboration solutions. Not only do we use it to share files between co-workers, but to archive each saved version as we're collaborating. It’s wonderful. It works by syncing the most recent version of each cloud file with my computer, while the archived backups are on the cloud and not on my computer taking up valuable space.
Other popular cloud storage programs are Google Drive or Dropbox, and both have free options for a limited amount of storage. They sync between your computer and the cloud. You can also adjust your preferences and settings depending on which computer you’re accessing your files from.
1) Sync and backup all my files and applications: I use Time Machine. If you have a Mac, schedule this right away. If there’s a problem, you can pretend you’re Doctor Who and time travel to a date when your file or computer was in the state you need it to be in. (Sadly, this only works for files and computers, not real life.) You may use this to back up everything—both your files and your applications.
By the way, you can back up to your own computer, but that’s kind of silly. If your computer is dead, then . . . backing up to a separate and/or external drive is a more foolproof way to ensure your files are safe.
2) Clone my entire computer: This is just what it sounds like: a complete copy of my entire computer including files, applications, settings, everything. This is a workable copy of your computer. In real life, that means no downtime.
I schedule the cloning software (we like Carbon Copy Cloner) to run hourly. Again, to a separate hard drive, but not the same one I use for my hourly Time Machine backups. For cloning, you’ll need a large drive with lots of space, not a cloud drive. This not only creates a complete workable copy, but is also useful for archiving previously cloned workable copies—think Time Machine Plus.
One important reason for cloning your computer is so that once every year you can completely “zero out” your computer and start fresh, without losing your files or settings. You can work off the clone while you are defragmenting your hard drive. Defragmenting helps prolong the life of your hard drive—our resident expert says it may even double the life of your drive. Meanwhile, you have all of your files and applications ready to reinstall when the defragmenting is complete.
I've written about this before, so why am I bringing it up again now? Because of this video from the Pixar team about a computer horror story that occurred during the making of Toy Story 2. One bad command, and the movie started to vanish! The moral of the story: you can never have too many backups.