Data Backup Day – Which Is The Best Backup Method?

Which Backup Method Is Best? Data Backup Day

The short answer: the method that works for you. Seriously, why sign up for some data backup method that is unwieldy, doesn’t backup everything you need, and uses an outmoded form of technology?

Luckily there are a variety of methods, platforms, technologies, toys and gadgets to get the job done. Here’s a quick review of the more popular choices:


The method of copying data to a CD or DVD is time consuming, labor intensive and for most users, it is a “write once” process: meaning you copy to the CD/DVD medium and you have to use a new CD/DVD for the next backup.

Another more important problem: the coating on most CDs and DVDs is only meant to last 5 to 10 years! Seriously!  So if you are sitting on old CD/DVD backups, please check them and copy the data to an external hard drive or cloud computing platform!

USB Flash Drives

I love USB flash drives, also called jump drives, especially since the amount of memory they can hold keeps going up and the price keeps coming down. One of my three back up methods is copying my data to a large USB flash drive at least once a month. Why? Because I place the flash drive in a firebox – a small fireproof safe – with all my legal papers. I can also grab it and take it with me in an emergency.

Tip: If a USB flash drive is your only method of backing up, PLEASE do not place it right next to your computer – please it in a safe location. If your computer is damaged by water or fire, the same is likely to happen to that flash drive.

External Hard Drive

Just like flash drives, the price on external hard drives has dropped and the storage amounts have increased. It is fairly common right now to see a 1TB (terabyte) portable drive for about $69 USD either online at Amazon or at the large superstores like Costco.

Many of these external hard drives comes with software that will create a backup schedule for you and copy files from your computer’s hard drive to the external drive. Backing up to a portable external hard drive is the second of my three backup methods.

However, just like the USB flash drives, it doesn’t make sense to keep the external hard drive right next to your desktop computer so it too might become damaged. Look for portable hard drives that you can secure in a different location.

Automated Backup Services

Automated backup services such as BackBlaze and Carbonite have become popular with users. The price range is usually around $50-$60 USD per year to backup one or two computers. You need to have a good Internet broadband connection since the initial backup can take several days. Once your initial backup is done, there’s not much more you need to do – the process takes care of itself!

The down side can be the price – for that same amount of money spent in one year, you could own your own external hard drive. The upside is that you don’t have to replace the hardware when technology changes – the backup service is on top of that.

Cloud Data Storage

The use of synchronized cloud data programs such as Dropbox, Box or One Drive continue to grow in popularity, especially with genealogists. I used Dropbox as the third method in my set of three backup methods for this reason: it automatically backs up all my files as I update them and it synchronizes them across all my devices.

Most of these cloud platforms have a free version, with Dropbox offering 2GB of base storage for free (you can earn up to 18GB through referring friends and family). The premium or paid cloud storage market has become very competitive lately, with a price war between Google Drive (at 1TB for $9.99 USD per month) and Microsoft’s One Drive (at 1TB for FREE for Microsoft Office 365 subscribers).

Some tips on using cloud programs: Don’t store sensitive data such as health records, taxes, financial data, etc. I keep those backed up on a flash drive secured in a safe place (and encrypted with a password). Also, if using the free version, make sure you log into your cloud account regularly; Dropbox has the right to delete your data from a free account if you haven’t touched it at least once in a 90 day period. And finally, don’t try to “game the system” by setting up multiple free accounts – you are guaranteed to make a mess of it and actually lose data.

Use At Least 3 Backup Methods In Tandem

Don’t rely upon one form of backup – I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. You should have at least two methods of backup – sort of like a “backup to the backup.” For me, I feel comfortable with three methods and as I said in the first paragraph, I use the methods that work best for me.

Data Backup Resources

GeneaBloggers has developed a resource list of data backup methodologies and solutions. Click here to learn how you can backup almost every aspect of your blog, your browser, your computer – even Macs!

Also, don’t forget to shop here at Amazon for some of the best deals on data backup software, external hard drives and more!

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

Genealogy Blogging Events – Week of 1-8 August 2014

GeneaBloggers Events 1-8 August 2014
Here is a list of events and goings-on in the world of genealogy blogging. Here’s what is happening in the coming week:

Daze of the Week!

Here are some upcoming dates to look out for so you can plan your genealogy and family history blog posts for next week:

  • 1 August: Data Backup Day, Colorado: Admission Day, Emancipation of 500 – Anniversary, First US Census – Anniversary, Francis Scott Key’s Birthday – Anniversary, MTV Premieres – Anniversary, and World Wide Web – Anniversary.
  • 2 August: James Baldwin’s Birthday – Anniversary, Double Seven Festival (China), Official Signing of the Declaration of Independence – Anniversary, National Mustard Day, and Carroll O’Connor’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 3 August: National Watermelon Day and Sisters Day.
  • 4 August: Louis Armstrong’s Birthday – Anniversary, Borden Ax Murders – Anniversary, Civic Holiday (Canada), Civil Rights Workers Found Slain – 50th Anniversary, Coast Guard Day, Admission Day – Colorado, and Picnic Day (Australia).
  • 5 August: “American Bandstand” Premiere – Anniversary, Battle of Mobile Bay – 150th Anniversary, Death of Marilyn Monroe – Anniversary, National Underwear Day, and Raoul Wallenberg’s Birthday – Anniversary.
  • 6 August: Hiroshima Day, Lucille Ball’s Birthday – Anniversary, First Woman Swims the English Channel – Anniversary, Voting Rights Act of 1965 Signed – Anniversary, and Andy Warhol’s Birthday.
  • 7 August: Operation Desert Shield Begins – Anniversary, Hatfield and McCoy Fued Begins – Anniversary, National Lighthouse Day, Professional Speakers Day, and Purple Heart Medal Created – Anniversary.
  • 8 August: Frederic March’s Birthday – Anniversary, Kool-Aid Days, National Scrabble Championship begins, and Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbors’ Porch Day.

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Genealogy Blogging Beat – Friday 1 August 2014

Aug 1, 1790. The first census revealed that there were 3,939,326 citizens in the 16 states and the Ohio Territory. The US has taken a census every 10 years since 1790.
Today is Friday, 1 August 2014, and here is what’s available in terms of events in the genealogy blogosphere:

Items of Note

  • Today: Data Backup Day, Colorado: Admission Day, Emancipation of 500 – Anniversary, First US Census – Anniversary, Francis Scott Key’s Birthday – Anniversary, MTV Premieres – Anniversary, and World Wide Web – Anniversary.

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