If you aren’t too busy celebrating Cesar Chavez Day*, the 98th anniversary of the US taking possession of the Danish West Indies**, or Gordie Howe‘s 87th birthday, please note that today, March 31, is also World Backup Day. (Why March 31? Because you don’t want to be an April Fool.) The website points out that 30% of people never back up their computers; only about a quarter do any regular backups.
If you use a computer, tablet, or smart phone, you almost certainly have files that would be painful to lose. If they only exist in one place, they’re only one spilled glass of iced tea away from vanishing, or one push half an inch too far off the edge of a table, or one random disk failure. We tend not to back things up because we think it’s complicated or expensive, or that we don’t have a place to put them.
In fact, current versions of Windows and Mac OS X both have good backup programs built in. Plug in a $50 USB hard drive or $15 flash drive and you’re good to go†. In Windows 8.x, search for “File History” (or find it in the Control Panel) and click Turn On. On a Mac, check out Time Machine in the system preferences.
Even simpler, for WFU users: move files to Google Drive. This is especially useful for files you don’t update frequently, like photos from your 2008 trip to Baraboo, Wisconsin, or the MP3‡ files you ripped from your old reel-to-reel jazz bassoon collection. Drive doesn’t care what the files are, and now it doesn’t care how many you park there. You can download the Windows or Mac app for Drive to make it just another drag-and-drop location under your Favorites folder. And once it’s in Drive, your files are safe even if an asteroid strike takes out both your laptop and your USB backup drive.
Total data security is about more than having a second copy of files somewhere, but a backup is an important step to take. Having a backup and not needing it is a lot better than needing one and not having it.
Happy World Backup Day.
[* Remember, Cesar Chavez and Hugo Chavez were not the same person.]
[** Yes, Danish. Denmark had a presence in the current US Virgin Islands from the 1670s until World War One.]
[† ZSR staff: your Tech Team is here to help. We have a limited number of USB hard drives and can help you get set up with backups.]
[‡ FLAC would be a better archival format for such treasures.]