Data backup is no joke–when I took my MacBook into the Apple Store this past weekend to drop it off for repairs, the first thing they asked was whether or not I’d backed up my data first. My answer? Of course, three times over! As someone who depends on not just their computer but more importantly the data on that machine to get things done, I don’t mess around. I’ve got a time machine backup at home, a clone of my hard drive in a secure location at the office, and of course, everything is also in the cloud. Planning for that kind of backup takes a little bit of work, but the right tools can help make it easier. I’m going to discuss one such tool today.
You may have noticed a new widget on this site in the sidebar on the right that asks, “How much cloud storage do you need?” I’d strongly encourage you to check it out, because it only takes a minute but can help you get a very accurate picture of roughly how much cloud storage space you’ll need to invest in, and how much money you’ll save by avoiding catastrophic data loss.
First up, let’s talk about storage needs. While the only way to get an exact count of the amount of data you have is to check the document, movie, music and picture folders on your computer itself, as well as find all of your unorganized files on the desktop or squirreled away in other folders, the calculator on this site gives a great estimate.
Based on my estimates, of about 8000 mp3s in my iTunes, 3000 photographs in my collection, and 5000 documents, a few movies and a handful of home movies, I’d say the calculator came pretty darn close to an accurate estimate of 170 GB of total data. Taking a quick peek at the actual files in my home directory, I’d say thats an accurate count of what it would take to back up these vital files. The calculator then shows you a price. Based on an estimate of how much each item is worth (it seems to fairly guess about a dollar for a song, ten for a film, around $45 for a home movie, and so on), you get a dollar representation of how valuable your files are. In my case, the total came to about a quarter of a million dollars. I’d say that’s possibly an underestimate, as I’ve got a complete record of nearly every file I’ve touched in the past decade and a half or so. Can you really put a price tag on keeping that data secure? I’m not so sure.
The one thing I know is that the peace of mind having multiple backup copies of my data, in a variety of different places including the cloud, buys me an easy quarter million in peace of mind. For a few hundred dollars a year to pay for cloud storage space and replace aging hard drives, I never have to worry about the possibility of losing my data. Sure, my Mac might explode or dissapear before I get it back from Apple, but at least I’ll have my files.