Safer Internet: Offline: Backups


  • disaster recovery+ Recover files lost because of disk/SSD failure, corruption, theft
  • + Encrypt backups to reduce impact of theft, surveillance
  • + Reverse an unwanted or incomplete software update
  • + Reduce effects of ransomware (hacker encrypting and holding your files hostage)
  • pray+ Access files in cloud from multiple devices
  • - Inertia; initial setup
  • - Making it a habit


What, Where, When?

  • bedtime story"Data loss is when you no longer have access to your own data...
  • "Data theft is when someone else gets access to your data illicitly...
  • Manual: selected files/folders copied to/shared with a USB drive or a cloud folder; must remember to do it
  • Incremental: only what's changed; automatic; user files, multiple versions, settings (contacts, bookmarks)
  • Complete: everything; user files/settings plus system, apps; ideally a bootable clone
  • delete homeworkLocal: a partitioned external disk is a convenient, inexpensive location for several backups
    e.g., Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper;
    disk manufacturer may provide backup software, e.g., Retrospect
  • Recommendation: purchase external disk 4x (or larger) size of your internal storage:
    1x for clone; 2-3x for incremental (more if multiple versions/deleted files are maintained)
  • e.g., for 250G internal disk/SSD, use 1Tb (or larger) drive:
    250G for clone, 500-750G for incremental; ?G for archive misc. partition
  • [2] Encrypt backup drives during setup -- or later, e.g., FileVault; see Encryption section
  • [3] Use separate external drives for incremental and for clone -- to reduce risk of single drive failing or lost
  • cloud lost homeworkRemote/Offsite: cloud services can provide free / inexpensive, encrypted remote backup for email, photos, contacts, notes, passwords, calendar, selected files etc., e.g., DropBox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, CrashPlan; located separately from your devices / home
  • World Backup Day March 31st (just before April Fool's)
  • Once/year is better than never ;-); however, more often is better for new or changing, important info, e.g., hourly/daily for incremental (cloud), daily/weekly for incremental (disk), monthly/quarterly for complete
  • restore husbandInternational Verify Your Backups Day every Friday the 13th
  • Checking that your backups actually occurred and that you can restore files are just as important
  • [Refs]: "When will your hard drive fail?"; "11 Stupid Backup Strategies"
  • [Refs]: "It's World Backup Day, Now's a Good Time to Check Your Backups"


  • brain sidesFrequency: weekly -- more often if many changed files; before any system updates
  • Mac (to disk): Time Machine > Open Time Machine Preferences
  • Mac (restore): Time Machine > Enter Time Machine [image]
  • [Refs:TimeMachine]: "How to Set Up Time Machine Backups in Mac OS X"
  • What to backup via iCloud?
  • iOS: Settings > iCloud: Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, News, Backup, Keychain, Find My iPad/iPhone
  • macOS: System Preferences > iCloud: Photos, Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, Keychain, Back to My Mac (File/Screen Sharing), Find My Mac
  • Email backup may not be necessary if using IMAP, i.e., messages already stored on ISP's mail server
  • How much is backed up / shared in iCloud?
  • iOS: Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage > Backups: device; Documents&Data
  • macOS: System Preferences > iCloud > Manage... (lower right)
  • macOS: > Settings (home) > Storage
  • NSAIs the cloud "safe"?
  • The strength of the encryption mainly depends on the strength & security of your password
  • If cloud provider has that password, files are vulnerable to government request / hacking
  • Extremely secure if file already encrypted, e.g., 1Password (on Dropbox);
    or service uses a separate (non-account) key which only you have, e.g., Crashplan (custom)
  • [Refs:Cloud]: "Crashplan: Archive Encryption Key Security Options"; "What does Dropbox do to protect my stuff?"
  • [Refs:iCloud]: "iCloud security and privacy overview"


  • make imageFrequency: monthly/quarterly; before major system updates
  • iOS (USB): iTunes (macOS,Win) > (device) > Summary > Backups
  • Good insurance against ransomware (Malware, Encryption), disk corruption
  • macOS (to disk): Carbon Copy Cloner
  • [Refs:CarbonCopyCloner]: "Review: Carbon Copy Cloner 4"
  • punishmentmacOS (to cloud): CrashPlan (incrementally, automatically)
  • [Refs:Cloud]: "Why I prefer CrashPlan for online backups"
  • [1] USB/disk (at remote site), e.g., bank Safety Deposit box, trusted friend's house
  • ufo[1] While travelling, backup digital photos
  • [Refs:Photos]: "The best way to manage your photos online in 2015"
  • [1] Paper: important device & account passwords (esp. for password manager!) in SD box
  • Save .pdf of various paper documents, e.g., manuals for devices & appliances from manufacturers sites
  • [Refs:Death]: "Preparing Digital Assets for Your Eventual Death"
  • [Refs:Paper]: "Top 10 Backups Everyone Should Have (not Just Computer Backups)"

What I Use

  • update backup iTunesincremental [ext disk]: macOS: TimeMachine -- files; several times/week
  • incremental [remote]: macOS, iOS: Dropbox --1Password passwords, notes; ongoing
  • incremental [remote]: macOS, iOS: iCloud -- Safari, Settings, etc.; ongoing
  • incremental [remote]: macOS: CrashPlan -- all files; ongoing
  • complete [ext disk]: macOS: Carbon Copy Cloner -- files, apps, system; monthly, esp. before macOS updates
  • complete iOS: iTunes(macOS) -- files, settings, etc. (Manual) before iOS updates -- see screenshot on right


  • [2] Computer-to-(remote friend's) computer, e.g., CrashPlan (free)
  • [2] If you host a blog or website, save backups.
  • e.g., > Dashboard > Tools > Export



Carbon Copy Cloner (Mac)


Death, Divorce







Natural Disaster, esp. Cascadia Quake

Paper, Other


SuperDuper (Mac)

TimeMachine (Mac)

Web Sites