AJ and I have a two-pronged approach when it comes to backing up data. First, we setup something that does it for us, secondly we never think about it again. I've found that the biggest obstacle to backing up data, is the one posed by humans. I just never remembered. I sure meant to back up, but never got to it. Over the years we've both had that horrible, horrible feeling of losing data. With more and more of our data being stored in the cloud there's a temptation to not worry about backing up so much, but that's a dangerous thought so I thought we'd outline how we approach data storage and data backup.
We are Apple Music subscribers. Prior to that we were iTunes Match customers. What this means is that (aside from being able to access nearly all the music on earth) all of our iTunes libraries are stored in the cloud. Should our laptops get stolen or iPhones get dropped, all of our music is safe on Apple's servers. A bonus: all our music is accessible from any of our Apple products at any time. In addition to this, we have a home server with all our music stored locally.
By far the biggest data hog are our photos. Again we turn to Apple. We use iCloud Photo Library to store all of our photos in the cloud. If anything happens to our devices, our photos are in the cloud.
All of our teaching material including the 1,000+ keynote presentations are stored in Dropbox. If we forget our laptop on the way to church, we can borrow someone else's, log into our Dropbox account and we're golden.
Relying on the cloud has some advantages. But that's not really a backup of your data. So in addition to where we store our data, we also have regular automatic backups happening on all our devices.
Our iPhones and iPads back up to iCloud every night automatically. If anything happened to those devices we could easily restore all our data from iCloud and pick up from where we left off (which we have done, several times.) To ensure we have enough space for our iCloud data storage (for photos and for device backups) we pay Apple $2.99 each month for 200GB data. Currently I have 36GB free.
We use two different services for backing up our laptops, both fully automated. We have a Time Capsule at home. This is a wireless router with a hard drive in it. When our laptops are connected to our Wi-Fi network at home, they automatically back up data in the background. If we were to have a hard drive crash or lose a laptop, we'd still be able to access data locally from that hard drive and restore files immediately.
We also use a service called BackBlaze. This is very similar to backing up to a Time Capsule, but this time our data is backed up over the internet to BackBlaze's servers. That way, if our Time Capsule gets struck by lightning or our house burns down, we still have access to all our data courtesy of BackBlaze.
BackBlaze takes a while on your first backup because you are transferring huge amounts of data over the internet. Currently we have around 1TB of data in BackBlaze. The software was written by former Apple engineers and best of all it's only $5 per computer for unlimited storage. We highly recommend it. You can get a free trial and if you use this link you'll also get another month free once you sign up.
The secret to the success of backing up with both Time Machine and BackBlaze is that they are fully automated services. They take a few minutes to set up, but going forward everything else happens behind the scenes without any user input. Don't be a dummy, backup today.