Backing Up – You Really Shouldn’t Ignore This!

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This is a geeky one – in case you forgot that I’m like that! It’s World Backup Day – an annual reminder that computers are not infallible and that if you don’t back up your precious documents, photos and other files, you will one day lose them. I know it sounds doom and gloom, but it’s true – hard drives crash, burglaries happen, laptops and phones get snatched and apparently there are viruses that attack some computers (not that I would need to worry much about that…)

If you’re anything like me, your computer contains documents from the past decade at least – work from University, perhaps, applications and CVs, ideas you’ve worked on in years past. Far more precious than that are the thousands of photos and videos – holidays, dates, birthdays, family celebrations. Countless memories of the first year of our little boy’s life are saved on the hard disk of my desktop and I’m not going to run the risk of losing a single one of them. My phone is scarcely less precious – since it’s the camera I always have with me, I use it a lot to capture little moments that the DSLR just isn’t there for – out shopping, in the park, having coffee, just playing on the living room floor. I want to keep every photo and video I’ve ever taken, safely and without a chance of any getting lost if my phone is taken or broken.

So this is how I do it.


I have a desktop that my wife also uses for work. I also have a laptop and a net book that has been re-purposed as a file server. Each of them runs Crashplan – by far the best backup software I’ve used, and it’s completely cross platform. It uses Java, so it’s even possible to get it running on some NAS servers. There are several ways to use the software – both free and paid-for. My desktop has a paid-for subscription to back up to Crashplan’s servers in the cloud – currently using over 250GB. The netbook has Crashplan installed only to receive backups – a smaller set from the desktop and also the laptop as well. So for most of my files, photos and music included, I have ‘on-site’ and ‘off-site’ backup. It updates daily if the computers are on and tells me weekly by email what has been backed up, so I never need to wonder if it’s running properly. There’s also an android app if I ever need to access a backed up file from the desktop while I’m out and there’s no other way of getting it.

However, one point of failure is too few to bet on, so there’s more. All my important documents need to be shared with both the desktop and the laptop and I use a combination of Dropbox and Ubuntu One to synchronise them. This has the obvious advantage of putting all those files in the cloud again, available on android apps and from the Dropbox website. As it stands now, Dropbox is the superior service – I have more available storage and as it syncs over the LAN it’s much faster.


My Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S 2) is rarely out of sight, I use it a lot, especially for photos and videos of our little one. I’ve detailed before how I sync photos daily, automatically and with no hassle. They’re also uploaded automatically by the Dropbox app on my phone (partly because it’s been snagging me more storage space!) Again, I have no need to worry about losing anything as they’re in multiple locations which are themselves backed up.


Backing up is not expensive or time consuming, but it’s often something people don’t think about until it’s too late. For half an hour of downloading and setting up a couple of programs you could get years of peace of mind and even make your files easier to access when you need them and you’re out.

If you’re not backing up, go and do it now!

If you back up with some other software, why not tell me how in the comments!