A blog from Brandon Moser, a Senior Web Developer. Mostly code, sometimes I post about drumming, UX and/or loyalty.

Backing up your digital life

Be honest, you wish you had a better handle on your digital life and data. We want to keep it all and keep it organized, but there are so many options and they all seem very complicated. Here is what I'm doing and some options I found in my research to get my digital life backed up at all times.

Remember, in the IT world, data doesn't exist unless it exists in three places: live data, local backup, and an offsite backup.

Why do we backup at all? At work, it's to keep our business going. If you lost your digital work, could your company recover? In your personal life, what would happen if you lost all of your digital assets? Could you survive?

If you have everything backed up and needed to get it back, how long could you take to get that data back? Immediately, 1 day, longer?

Let's think about what could cause us to need a backup of our data. The first thing that often comes to mind is that the drive storing our data will fail, or the computer hosting our data has an issue. What about fire, flood, theft, tornados, hurricanes, and other "acts of nature"? These are just as common and can actually be more difficult to handle.

With all of this in mind, this is the setup I use for my personal machine at home. The machine at home is a Macintosh, but the same process it possible on Windows or Linux.


  • Live Data: local drive running operating system with data stored in my User directory in various folders
  • Local Backup: nightly backup to a matching drive to the live data, using SuperDuper ( This builds a perfect copy of the data as my machine's main drive as a bootable copy (a copy that can start the computer just like the live data drive).
  • Offsite Backup: I have a service called, Crashplan, running all of the time backing up my personal data, but not my programs (applications) or system data. Since pushing large amounts of data to Crashplan's online storage service is dependant on my internet service, this can be a very slow process to keep up-to-date.

So there you have it, a full 3 copy backup plan. There are options for the Local Backup and the Offsite Backup. Here are a few that work on multiple platforms.

Local Backup Options

There are a large number of applications that will backup your data to another drive or location for each Operating System (Windows, Mac, Linux). Doing a search for "Best Backup Application {my OS}" will return many options. One option is Crashplan. Another option for the Crashplan application is to backup to a local drive. This can be run all of the time or at a specific interval (i.e. nightly). Other applications like, Norton Ghost, Retrospec Backup and others will backup your machine, but may not make a bootable copy.

Offsite Backup Options

Doing a search for "Best Online Backup Application {my OS}" will return many options. If you have small storage needs, options like Dropbox, iCloud, SugarSync, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive, can be a great option, as they are relatively inexpensive and have a good history of keeping up with storage needs for their customers. These options are, also, available on most platforms and allow you to share the data with other users.


For most of us, we just want to know ouur pictures are backed up. The hard part is that there isn't 1 service doing that perfectly. You have options like Flickr, Dropbox, PictureLife, iCloud, Google Photos, and various others. Most of them cost money or have weird restrictions on how the photos are added to their service. I'm not completely set on this one, yet, but we use PictureLife to store all of our photos. It has an option to upload from iPhoto/Photos on our Macs and from our iPhones. There is a cost, but we have been happy with the service.

There you have it, our current backup setup and process. Not perfect, but working as expected and implemented. Which, as it turns out, are the 2 most important things in a backup plan.