Stop what you’re doing and backup your files

There is a classic episode of Sex and the City from 2001 called, “My Motherboard, My Self.” Now, I am not what you would call a fan of that show, it’s a little out of my preferred demographic. But if you like it, to each his (or her) own. In it, Carrie’s ancient computer dies (it was even pretty old by 2001 standards.) She goes to some sort of genius bar-like location and along the way, she is asked the same question over and over again:

“Do you have a backup?”

Eventually young Ms. Parker’s character gets flustered. Of course she does not have a backup. She, in fact, has hardly ever heard of a backup. She had no idea she even needed one, and yet everyone else seems to know about backups. Do you ever feel like Carrie Bradshaw? It’s ok to admit it, there’s no one here but you and me.

Chances are, you don’t have a backup of your most important files. You really should. I’m talking about videos you shot that can never be replaced. Tax Records. Your will. (What, you didn’t do that either?) Folks, you need to do this and there’s no excuse. Why? Because there are two great options out there.

Cloud Storage

There is so much cloud storage out there that it’s insane. Best thing is that most of it’s free. If you have a Gmail account you have 15GB of free storage at If you have a copy of Office365 registered in your name you have a whopping 1TB of free storage at your disposal with most plans.

So, take your important files and drag them over to a cloud server. It’s going to take a while to copy, and you might run into issues with your data cap. So it’s going to be a little more of a long term process.

Flash Drives

Flash drives are really cheap. Why? Because most people don’t want them. You can pick up a 256GB flash drive for under $20 now at a lot of places. At that price you would be foolish not to pick up four or five of them.

Yeah, flash drives are slow and uncool. Very true. However, they’re also easy to store and virtually indestructible. And with them being as cheap as they are this is a very easy way to back up your important files. It’s going to take a while as well, although probably not as long as sending everything up to cloud storage.

What about Windows File History and Mac Time Machine?

These options are built into your computer and they will automatically copy your stuff in real time over to an external hard drive. This is a great option but it doesn’t help a lot if your computer is completely destroyed. Also, in the case of a theft, someone’s probably going to take that external drive too. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use these options, but you should also use something that you can take offsite.

What’s the best way to backup?

Here’s how I do it. Every few months I copy everything to fresh flash drives. I keep the old ones for at least six months so I have two copies of almost everything. I take these drives offsite and give them to someone I trust. If you don’t trust anyone that much you can get a safe deposit box or something. The important thing is that your backup be stored somewhere away from your computer. It should preferably be stored somewhere other than where your computer is, in case of fire or something.

I am pleased to say that in almost 20 years of doing this (or something like this, since there was a time when all my files fit on one CD) I haven’t lost a single file of consequence. and it’s not for lack of trying, since I’ve had several computers up and poop out on me.

So, go and backup. You’ll find peace of mind you never knew existed! When you’re done, shop for the best computer accessories at

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.