Information Technology Reference
Cloud Sync and File Restoration
I was discussing backup and restoration strategies with a reader,
and he asked me exactly what I'd do if my hard drive died and had
to be replaced. In particular, he was wondering how I'd deal with the
differences between my last bootable duplicate and what had been
backed up more recently by CrashPlan or Time Machine.
I told him I'd restore my disk from the duplicate, which would get
me pretty close to my disk's last state because I update my duplicate
twice a day. But then, realistically, I probably wouldn't have to touch
my versioned backups, even if they were hours or days out of date.
That's because nowadays, I store most of my important day-to-day
data in the cloud.
Personal data such as email, contacts, calendars, reminders, notes,
and browser bookmarks sync automatically thanks to iCloud and
other services. And most of the files I work on regularly are stored
in my Dropbox folder. So merely starting up a Mac on which the
relevant apps are installed and logged in to my key accounts will
make most of my data automagically update itself to the latest
versions. If I noticed anything missing, I could always fetch it from
a versioned backup later, at my leisure.
I'm not saying that cloud-based data storage and syncing substitutes
for backups as such, but rather that when the cloud contains the
“master” copy of your important data, you can often skip a number
of tedious steps when it comes to restoring backups, because the
most crucial data syncs all by itself.
So, my recommendation is to use IMAP for email if you don't already
(see my article FlippedBITS: IMAP Misconceptions ); use iCloud or a
comparable service for syncing data such as contacts and calendars;
and use Dropbox (or any of numerous similar services, such as
Bitcasa, Box, and SugarSync) for syncing your files to the cloud
and across computers. And, crucially, adjust your habits so your most
frequently used files are stored in a folder that syncs automatically to
the cloud .