A good, safe backup strategy
To give your data the best chance of surviving a range of problems, and to minimize your down time if disaster strikes (which is especially important if you rely on your Mac for you livelihood), you should do three things:
- Back up using Time Machine (to a disk connected to your network for extra convenience, particularly if you use a laptop)
- Clone your hard disk daily to a disk connected to your Mac
- Use a cloud backup or peer-to-peer backup service
By mixing these three strategies, you get file versioning from Time Machine (great if you overwrite or delete something, or want to go back to an earlier draft of a file), the ability to quickly boot from your cloned disk if your internal drive fails (so you can keep working without missing a beat), and are safeguarded against theft or damage (whether that’s something like dropping your MacBook or a more serious disaster such as fire) by having your data also stored elsewhere in the world with a cloud or other remote backup system. Plus, as well as their individual strengths, you also have three copies of your data, which is great if one or more fails. For more on all these as well as some other options, see below.
A last word of advice
Hopefully, then, we’ve helped you adopt the right backup system for you—or at least, gotten you to plug a sixty-buck hard disk into your Mac for Time Machine—but be careful not to get lulled into a false sense of security. Backup can help mitigate against data loss, and the more backup systems you have running the less chance there is that you’ll lose your wedding pictures, your work documents, your homework. Things can still go wrong, though, so be vigilant, and if one of your backup systems (or your Mac) goes awry, fix and replace it as soon as you can to keep up your protection.
Which brings us to your last bit of advice: every so often, do a quick audit to make sure your backup systems are actually running and are backing up as they’re supposed to. Set a recurring reminder—weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on how conscientious and/or paranoid you are!—to check your backups.