Your computer is going to fail!

As a matter of a full disclosure, the online backup solution I’ll be recommending is called Backblaze and I have a referral link to them. This means, should you follow my advice and decide to become a customer then not only do you get one month of unlimited, online back up for free but at the same time so will I. We both win, anyway I wanted to make that clear before we start so, on with the article.

As I write this article for you I currently have four major video projects on the go, not to mention all the other creative projects I’m also working on. They're all sitting on my laptop safe and sound just waiting for me to work on them, but what I have to tell you is too important to wait and in the next couple of minutes I could help you get complete digital peace of mind.

When talking about productivity and working effectively and efficiently many people are too focused on moving forward. What’s the next file I need to create, what’s the next project I need to work or what does my next client want from me? All of these are perfectly valid and reasonable concerns but it plays into a trap that is all too common for humans to become a victim of and that is assuming the worst will never happen to them. We commonly think that bad events happen to other people, and then regret not taking action when we had the opportunity. There are countless times in your life when taking early action now can save you a lot of heartache and distress in the future. In some respects this is what the entire fitness industry is built upon; abstaining from the immediate gratification of a pizza or a chocolate bar in order to have a longer and more healthy life. The study of psychology has demonstrated that we are really bad at this kind of deferred gratification. We would much rather have the immediate pleasure than visualise some better future that may never come. Many people are aware of the fact that habits that are gratifying get rewarded and therefore repeated, but arduous tasks often never last. This mindset is also true with regards to protecting your digital lives. If you’re anything like me then the majority of what you hold dear is contained on your computer, from the once-in-a-lifetime photos of your children to your dissertation that you’ve been slaving over for months for a university: these things are all precious and are all irreplaceable. However we spend too much of our time online or on our devices creating and sharing this media and not enough time thinking how we should protect it, because here’s the twist: the device you use to create what you love and cherish will, at some point, die.

That phone that you have all of your pictures on could be dropped one day. The computer that you have relied upon for years and that has worked silently without complaint runs off a hard drive that will inevitably die at some point and quite often without warning. I don’t want to be hyperbolic or cause panic. I simply want you to understand that your beloved and trusted electronic devices are not immune from failure, far from it. With the knowledge that it’s only a matter of when, and not if your devices will fail then what are the solutions. I have tried almost every possible option available to safeguard the pictures and documents that are most dear to me and this is what I have found.

The most old-school approach is to simply print off all your pictures and document. If your hard drive is going to fail then physical duplicating your files and having them on your wall or in a draw is certainly one way to ensure their longevity, but that’s far from perfect. Clearly, you only have a finite amount of space to display your photos and store your documents and while it may be possible to have every photo you like in an album of some sort that still leaves the problem of what happens if your house gets burgled or entirely destroyed in a fire. Having all of your eggs in one basket is a well-known saying for a reason.

So the answer could be to duplicate the files onto some other form of media such as DVD or an external hard drive. I can’t begin to calculate the I hours I have spent copying all of my video files and university essays onto a separate hard drive and keeping that at a friends house just in case anything happened where I lived. It was time-consuming but it was effective. Unfortunately, this system required me to perform the backup at regular intervals and it could be days if not weeks until I had the opportunity to update my external hard drive. If you consider how quickly you make new content then a week is an awfully long time to go unprotected. Thankfully the almost universal access to the high-speed Internet means that we now have the ability to use a number of helpful online services. One such type of service is sync services. Possibly the most popular and well know of these is Dropbox. The basic, free account allows you to store 2 GB in the cloud. However, don’t get lured into a false sense of security. An online sync service such as Dropbox is certainly not the same as online backup. For a start, having all of your files that you care about on a service like Dropbox is okay but if you were to accidentally delete your files on your computer, then those deletions will also be mirrored on the online service and while you do get a generous 30 days to undelete your files that won’t help you if you happened to have deleted something by accident and don’t notice until it’s too late. This is something I have done and the cold feeling of checking online to see whether the files could be recovered is something I don’t want to repeat.

This brings me to my conclusion that the only surefire the way of maintaining peace of mind and assuring your files are safe is to have an unlimited online backup. Unlimited online backup is the only way to ensure that every file I care about is duplicated and safe forever. There are a few options for you to consider and one notable free option. Google offers a free online and unlimited backup for all of your videos are photos, however, if you take high-quality pictures and video (and more of us will as phone camera get better and better) then the free version of the Google backup will downgrade the quality unless you are willing to pay for a subscription. Also, considering that Google makes a large proportion of its revenue through advertising then you may be giving your treasured photos and videos to a company with which you don’t necessarily share the same ethos. With that honourable mention out of the way, let's have a look at some online backup companies that I have tried.

For the longest time, I was a customer of CrashPlan. For a reasonable annual fee, I had a program running on my computer which would send every file in every folder up to their servers. What’s more, the program would look for any changes that I made in any of my files and send those to the servers as well. The initial backing up took many weeks but once it was done I felt secure knowing that if anything happened to my computer then everything I had ever created was accessible and securely online. One thing I really liked about CrashPlan was that they had a family option. This meant that I could have five computers under the same account. Unfortunately, the company recently decided to leave the consumer market and focus solely on providing backup solutions for businesses so this meant I had to look for an alternative. After much research, I settled on the Backblaze. In essence, it offers the same unlimited online backup for only $5 a month. As I said at the beginning of this article, with my link you can get your first month completely free but I’m sure you’ll agree that $5 a month for the peace of mind of knowing that everything you create is going to be backed up securely with no size restrictions is genuinely something that money can’t buy. Now they’re not perfect, unfortunately, they don’t have a family plan so if your work using more than one computer (as I do) then you will require another subscription for each computer you want to back up but having felt the pain of losing files that have been irreplaceable, it’s a price I am willing to pay.

So if you do own a computer (either a mac or a PC) and you don’t have some kind of online backup then you are really playing with fire and your luck will eventually run out. I clearly recommend using Backblaze and they have an app that runs on both Windows and Mac but the purpose of this article is to urge you to use any online backup solution.

Ultimately if you do decide to use back please then here is my unique link to get you that one month sorry but I’ll be really interested in knowing what solutions you have tried and work which work for you in protecting the files that you care most about. Ultimately you have to ask, If you lost everything today, how much would you pay to get it back? That’s the question I asked myself and within minutes I became a committed and lifelong customer of unlimited, online backup.