Be honest. When was the last time you backed up your files?

I bet if you’re really honest, it was so long ago you don’t remember.

Backing up is one of those things like flossing. A lot of people do it, but a lot of people just say they do it. And at some point your bad habits are going to catch up to you either way.

Do you need to back up stuff if your life is on the cloud anyway?

If you have a Windows 10 or 11 PC, you can automatically back up your documents, pictures, and other important stuff to the cloud using OneDrive. No matter what kind of device you have, you can back it up with Google Drive or any other sort of cloud storage. Your phone is probably set up to keep important copies of things in the cloud and so you probably think that keeping a manual backup is just a waste of time.

Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t.

I think you should keep physical backups of the things you really care about. Maybe you don’t need everything, but if nothing else a copy of your taxes, the photos you really care about, and your contacts.

How to get contacts off your phone

This isn’t as hard as you think. Android users can go to Google Contacts on a computer. There’s an option to export on the lower left. Apple users can go to iCloud on a PC. Click the gear at lower right, select all, and then you can export. It’s not really a big deal.

What should you do with the backup?

The best thing to do is give it to someone you trust. Even better, make two copies. Keep one in a drawer and give someone else the other one. If you need a backup, it could be due to something really bad happening at home so keeping the only backup in the same place as your computer and phone doesn’t make a lot of sense.

How much should it cost to back up?

If you’re backing up to a flash drive, it’s really really unlikely you’ll need to spend more than $20 to fit all the files you have. Of course a content creator like me needs a little more space than that but honestly, considering you can get a 128GB flash drive for about $15 it’s hard to know why you would need more than that. Oh, you might if you’re the sort of person who saves every single thing, I guess.

What about those services like Carbonite that back up for you?

These services were very popular a decade ago before computers started backing up to the cloud anyway. But these days they’re less necessary. I think they’re a bit pricey and you’re still relying on someone else to be able to keep your data.

Just do it already

It’s a new year and it’s a new opportunity to have better habits. Just back up your files. And while you’re at it, start flossing at least as much you tell people you already do. And if you need anything to live your best digital life, shop at Solid Signal.

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.