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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 60: Set Up an Automated, Bulletproof File Back Up Solution

Level Medium

Platform Windows, Mac, and Linux

Cost $75 and up (for external hard drive); as low as $1.50/month (for CrashPlan+)

More and more, the fragments of your life exist as particles on a disk mounted inside your computer. The photos from your one-year-old niece’s birthday, the interview you did with great-grandpa Gus, your working manuscript of the Great American Novel, the first email messages you exchanged with your spouse — not to mention crucial professional data — all exist as bits of information on storage devices susceptible to temperature changes, power surges, fire, theft, static, and just plain wear and tear.

Hard drives fail. It’s a fact of computing life. It’s not a matter of whether your computer’s disk will stop working; it’s a matter of when. The question is how much it will disrupt your life — and it won’t, if you have a backup copy.

Backing up your data is the dullest but most indispensable thing you do on your computer. But who remembers to do it? You don’t have to.

In this hack, you automate backups for your computer, both on-site, to an external hard drive, and off-site, to the Internet. This system can even email you if something goes wrong, so it’s the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it situation. After you get this up and running, you’ll never have to worry about losing data again.

Local Backup VERSUS Online Backup — Why You Should HAVE Both

Local external drive backups are great for quick ...

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