Hi! It’s you, a month or two from now. I’m traveling back in time with an urgent message.
No, no, not “invest in TriMegaMutual”. Not “don’t believe the polar bears when they learn to talk”.
It’s this: “back up your hard drive.”
See, in about a month or two, your (my) hard drive’s going to fail. And you’re (I’m) going to smack your (my) forehead and say, “Why the hell didn’t I back up? If only I could go back in time to the end of 2011, when I had all that free time.”
And then you’re (I’m) going to build a time machine, and go back in time to warn yourself. Except you won’t have to… if you start backing up now. Right now can be the then when you wish you’d backed up, except — hurray! — you did. If you follow.
Here are three things you can do, right now, to make sure your most urgent data is there when you need it:
- Buy yourself a nice big external hard drive (there are plenty of sales on right now) and use a simple backup program with it. If you have a Mac and a recent version of OS X, you already have one: it’s called Time Machine (yeah: spooky, right?) and it came free with your operating system. Just open up the Time Machine preference pane in System Preferences, and configure from there. If you’re using Windows, Backup and Restore comes free with Windows. And if you’re using Linux… well, you’re probably already backing up with something like fwbackups.
- Sign onto a service like Dropbox, and use it to back up your most critical 2 GB of info, free of charge. This could be your active work documents, for example. It’ll mean you can keep working on the most important stuff on another computer while you’re recovering from the hard drive failure.
- Start using a networked notebook like Evernote to store notes from meetings, to-do lists, software serial numbers and other key info. Password-protect any info you’d particularly like to keep from prying eyes. You’ll be able to access it from other computers and mobile devices while your computer’s getting back up and running.
Of course there’s more to a solid backup regime than this. (I actually had a visit from the us of late 2012, warning about floods, earthquakes and fire, and suggesting we look into a] an offsite backup and b] the whole Mayan calendar thing.) But with these three steps, you’ll be way ahead of the game in a month or two.
Thanks. I’m hoping that tell you all this won’t cause some kind of temporal paradox that winds up causing the universe to collapse. But trust me: compared to what losing all our data will be like, it’s worth the risk.