Western Digital My Cloud Unit, Looks like a small white box with a grey label and blue light
Western Digital My Cloud

You have heard the idiom, “Closing the barn door after the horse has bolted”?  People always think of things they should have done after something happens. Last night (3/28) those of us in Southern California had a healthy earthquake give us a wake-up call. Truth be told, it was the second wake up call, the first one was the morning of St. Patrick’s day. Since the St. Patrick’s day quake was little, most of us just said, “It’s a California thing!” and continued to pinch, kiss and party!

But in truth, we are always being told to have food and water set aside to prepare for “The Big One”. But even with little quakes things can go wrong. On St. Patrick’s day the quake nearly knocked over my tower. Had I not been sitting at the computer, and quick to grab it, I might not be writing this now – At least not on this computer! Chances are good I would have lost a lot, if not all, of my data. Clearly not a good thing. I do have most data backed up, just not in the way it really should be!

It’s all about being prepared. And since my roommate and I have been talking about how to best backup our computers this seems like a good time to discuss it here. We all know that it is a good idea to backup our data – but many folks just don’t do it – or don’t do it correctly. And, if you depend on your computer for your livelihood (as I do!) should disaster strike, you could be out in the cold. But what IS the best way to backup data?

Computer gurus tend to say you should have everything backed up in 2 or 3 places. You should have a physical backup at your home or office, another physical backup off-site, and a backup in the cloud. I’ll share with you what I have discovered.

Backup to Another Hard Drive.

This can attach directly to your computer and then be put in a safe or other safe location, ideally in another room of the house.

  • USB external drives are available from 500GB to 4TB (and there are other options for even more if you need it!)
  • 32 and 64GB thumb drives are a great way to keep files you need safe as well. I keep my client files on thumb drives, for example.

Backup to Another Hard Drive and Store Offsite

Have a second hard drive that you backup to and keep at a location away from your home, but still easily accessible. (This is the one that some experts say is unnecessary as long as you have 1 and 3.)

  • Works well if you have a storage facility or trusted friend nearby.

Cloud Storage

Utilize cloud storage that is off site and outside of your geographic location.

  • This way if some disaster strikes, you don’t both go down and your data is secure.

Cloud Storage Options

Chances are the free sources, won’t be enough for you, but if they are, here is a resource: I personally use Dropbox (which I LOVE) and OneBox (formarly Skydrive) when working with clients — They are easy ways to share large files — but not for backup!

I found this’s PC Support article to be particularly helpful was they show a comparison of 39 online backup services. They also have links to reviews of sites with unlimited backup for one or even multiple computers and sometimes phones too at very reasonable prices. And, if you want side-by-side reviews, check out Find My Cloud Storage It lists the top 10 pay sources. I was a little surprised that they didn’t include Mozey. I have used Mozey in the past and was very happy with the service. However, I think it’s time I moved to an unlimited source, and Mozey seems to be a little bit pricey now.

I have also been looking into a personal cloud option.  One option I really like is WD (Western Digital) My Cloud that I originally found over at Best Buy . You can connect extra drives to it, so it would make doing both types of in-house backups mentioned above easy-peasy.

If you think this option might be for you, I would strongly encourage you to head over to and take the time to watch Lon J. Seidman’s review of it. Also read the next 2 reviews. They provide a lot of helpful information about setting up the system.

I hope this helps those of you in Southern California, if you were thinking about what you SHOULD HAVE DONE if this quake had been the big one! (Everyone else: don’t wait until something happens in your area to put a good backup plan in place.) Personally I am planning on setting up a better backup system for myself in the next month.

What kind of backup plan works best for you? Let me know in the comments section below!

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