Knowledgebase: macOS
Back Up Your Data: Where to Start
Updated: 27 July 2020 12:55 PM

Why?

Your data is important to you. Keeping your data safe and your computer working are important. Backing up your computer's data is a great way to do that. If something bad happens to your computer, then you don't want that to be the only place your files were stored. We never expect to lose something, but data is one of the few things you can actually duplicate to guard against that loss.

 

OK, what is a backup exactly?

Backing up is the copying of our data to an external place outside of our personal computer, such as an external hard drive, or cloud storage service where it is safely stored in case our computer has a problem and we lose that data or our ability to access it.

 

What's a good way to back up my data?

The best backup solution is one that is automatic. Your data should be copied to a place of your choosing on a regular basis without you having to do it. That way you won't forget to do it or put it off, it will happen more regularly and you won't need to think about it as much.

So let's go over some backup solutions:

 

External Media Backups

There are several kinds of external devices or disks, the most common is what's known as an External Hard Drive.

External Hard Drives are relatively inexpensive ways of storing large amounts of data and can enable you to use backup solutions that duplicate the entire contents of your computer, enabling you to recover not only personal files, but also your computer's operating system.

Automatic backup solutions that use external hard drives are a recommended method of backup, and depending on whether you use a Mac or a Windows computer, there is a different solution for each. Information on those is here:

Macs use Time Machine

Windows computers use File History

 

Cloud Storage Services

A Cloud Storage service stores your data by transmitting it over the internet and securely stores it on a company's servers "in the cloud". What this means is that your data is being secured by robust systems run by large companies, who have an interest in the security and safety of your data. Many of these services have a free plan that entitles you to a certain amount of data storage, and if you want more space you need to pay for it.

Most of these services can be accessed through a website, but also include a piece of software that, once installed on your computer can automatically synchronize the content of a folder or multiple folders on your computer with the copies of them stored in the cloud.

This means every time you save a file in a synchronized folder, the changes are recorded immediately after. This *does* take some time and if the files are very large then the speed of this backup depends on how fast your internet's upload speed is. Because of this, cloud storage isn't always a great solution for backing up the largest files, but it's great for critical documents and data you absolutely don't want to lose.

 

OneDrive

As part of OCAD U's relationship with Microsoft you are entitled to a paid-tier level including 5 Terabytes of Microsoft OneDrive: because of this it's what we'd recommend you use.

You can access the web interface of your OCAD U OneDrive account through https://365.ocadu.ca

 

If you're on a Windows computer, the OneDrive software is built-in to your operating system. If you're on a Mac, you'll need to download the software and install it:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/microsoft-365/onedrive/download

Information on how to sign into OneDrive and sync files is here:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Sync-with-OneDrive-bb89981b-e382-4969-b8fd-d413a90b6db3#ID0EAABAAA=Set_up

Our article with additional troubleshooting and answers to questions about OneDrive and its business-facing product Sharepoint is here:

https://support-its.ocadu.ca/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/2211/386/ocad-u-365-onedrive--sharepoint-faq

 

Other Cloud Storage Technologies

While there are plenty of other solutions on the market, because of your entitlement to OneDrive storage we don't recommend you use them, at least for your OCAD U data. Of course it is up to you to choose where you put your data and you may wish to separate your personal things in another service, or just want to know what the other options are--here are some links to information on some of the most major cloud storage products.

iCloud is Apple's built in solution that comes with Mac and iOS devices.

Google Drive is a popular offering from the search/advertising giant

Dropbox is one of the original companies that popularized the concept of synchronized cloud storage.

 

Other External Media Types:

An External Solid State Drive(SSD) is like an external hard drive but uses technology that is newer, faster and more physically durable. Typically more expensive but an excellent physical backup option when paired with one of the OS backup technologies above.

USB Keys can be used for small file storage but often don't come in a large enough size to store all the data you want, so they're not usually suitable for  backing up automatically.

SD Cards/Flash Storage Cards are most commonly used in cameras. They also don't often come in large enough sizes to store all of a computer's data so we don't recommend these for backing up.