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World Backup Day: Let's be careful out there

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On the old 1980s cop drama "Hill Street Blues", Sergeant Phil Esterhaus started off each episode with a briefing ending with the line "Let's be careful out there." While he was showing concern for his team of police officers, the same line is very applicable to anyone who is using a Mac, iPad or iPhone. Each year on World Backup Day, TUAW -- and most other Apple web sites -- would like to remind you of just how important it is to back up your data.

I'm often asked what my backup strategy is, and I tell people that I use a three-tiered plan. Here's the plan:

  • Tier 1: Local backup onto a hard drive
  • Tier 2: Online backup of everything
  • Tier 3: Cloud storage of important documents

Tier 1 isn't that expensive to accomplish, folks. A quick look at Amazon showed a number of 4 TB external hard drives that were available for less than $160. These can be set up with Apple's very own Time Machine, or you can do nightly backups with Mac apps like Carbon Copy Cloner or my personal favorite, SuperDuper!

For Tier 2, there are a number of online backup companies that add that layer of physical separation you'll want in case your home or office is destroyed by some calamity. Backblaze charges just $5 a month for unlimited online storage, while Crashplan offers the same unlimited plan for as low as $3.96 a month.

Tier 3 is just the icing on the cake. I use Dropbox to store any important documents in the cloud, while I know other bloggers who are more happy with Google Drive. In either situation, you're ending up with one more copy of your data just in case...

That's my plan for my Macs. For my iOS devices, I use iCloud to make sure that my settings, apps, and a growing number of documents are stored off the device. iCloud makes it incredibly simple to re-load a device with your apps and settings should it be lost or need to be restored.

So, what's your backup story? How do you go about backing up your Mac or iOS devices? Let us know in the comments.

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