5 Hallmarks of a Good Backup System

I believe that there are two types of people in this world. Those who have lost data and those who will lose data. Consequently, it’s imperative to backup all of your data files on your computer if you run a business from your computer.

A backup system is analogous to an insurance policy. We hope we never need to rely on it, but we’re very glad that we have it, if it is needed. And just as different insurance policies provide different amounts of coverage, not all backup systems provide the same level of protection. Here is a list of the 5 essential characteristics of a good backup system.

  1. All files on your computer are backed up
    Your backup system should backup all files on your computer. This includes the operating system, all applications and all of your data, such as your word processing files, PDFs, spreadsheets, photos, music, etc.
  2. Backups occur frequently and automatically
    Your backup system should run automatically every day, or even more frequently. Many cloud-based backup systems check every 15 minutes for recently edited or created files and back them up
  3. Multiple backup copies are created
    A rule of thumb is that if it’s important enough to backup once then it’s important enough to backup twice. Your backup system should produce multiple backup copies of your files. The multiple copies should be kept on multiple disks which are securely stored in both on-site and off-site locations.
  4. The backup system is monitored
    You need to monitor your backup system to know that it is running. The status of backup systems can be monitored by clicking one icon on your Mac or PC to see the date and time of the most recent backup. Some backup systems can email a daily report indicating success or failure. These reports might list the number of files or the amount of data backed up.
  5. The backup system is tested periodically
    You need to test your backup system a few times each year to ensure that it’s working properly. Through testing you’ll learn how to recover files from your backup system. Testing will build comfort and confidence. Then, when a true emergency arises, it’ll be easier to remain calm and restore the needed files.

The Tao of Backup does a very good job of describing the importance of each of these components in an entertaining and educational way, if you’d like to review them. Otherwise, if you’d like help setting up a good backup system on your Mac or PC, please consider these resources.


A good backup strategy, for many PC owners, is to backup your entire PC to an external hard drive using Acornis True Image and then create an off-site backup of your data using an online backup system like BackBlaze.


A good backup strategy, for many Mac owners, is to backup your entire Mac to an external hard drive using Time Machine. Then create an off-site backup of your data using an online backup system like BackBlaze. If you’d like to go more in-depth, check out Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac This is a $15 PDF book that will help you assess your current backup strategy and makes solid recommendations.

Tim Hannon is an Apple Certified Consultant dedicated to making your Mac experience easier.