Backups: When and How to Use Them

Back-up Data

At some point, you will most likely have some computer malfunction that causes loss of some or all of your personal files, documents or photos. Maybe you accidentally deleted the wrong file, experienced a hardware failure, or lost your laptop. Even worse, malware may have infected your computer. In times like these, backups are often the only way you can rebuild your digital life or recover critical data.

What to Back Up and When

There are two approaches on deciding what to back up:

  1. Specific data that is important to you
  2. Everything including your operating system

If you are not sure what to back up then the best approach may be backing up everything. You should also consider how often you want to back up. Apple’s Time Machine or Microsoft Backup and Restore allow you to create an automatic “set it and forget it” backup schedule. Other solutions can allow continuous protection in which new or altered files are immediately backed up as soon as there closed.

How to Back Up

You can store your files in two ways:

Physical Media:

Backing up to physical media keeps your files on a physical storage device, such as DVD’s, USB devices or an external hard drive. Whichever media you choose, never back up your files to the device that holds your original files. It’s also smart to label your physical media with info about the backup and the date it was created.

Some disadvantages to storing on physical media is the possibility of disaster or theft. Physical media can be lost, stolen or damaged just as easily as the original files.

Cloud-based solutions:

Cloud-based storage works by installing a program (client) that automatically backs up your files for you. You can pay for cloud storage providers to store your backups. The price is normally determined by the size of the backup.

The advantage of this solution is in the event of a disaster or theft, your files will be virtually stored off-site. Additionally, you can access these files from anywhere. The disadvantages of cloud-based backups are that recovery can be slower especially if you have a large amount of data and you will also need to ensure that the cloud service provider can store this data securely to prevent unauthorized access.


After backing up your data, it’s always a good to be certain that you can recover it. Check every month that your backups are working by recovering a file and validating the contents. Additionally, be sure to make a full system backup before a major upgrade such as moving to a new computer or mobile device or before a major repair.

Key Points Summary

  • Automate your backups
  • When rebuilding an entire system from backup be sure to reapply the latest security patches and update before using again
  • Outdated backups may become a liability so it is recommended to delete these backups to prevent unauthorized access and in the case that cloud storage is used, manage your storage capacity and related costs
  • Be sure to verify that cloud backup and storage providers have security measures in place to protect the data by checking the policies and reputation of your cloud provider:
    • Ask if they encrypt your data when it is stored
    • Determine who has access to your backups
    • Verify they support strong authentication, such as two-step verification

Apple’s New iOS 7 – Big Success, Big Headaches

Plus, some tips to help EarthLink members make the transition to iOS 7

Apple iOS 7  new for iPhones and iPadsLast Wednesday Apple released a new version of its iOS operating system, iOS 7, that runs iPhones, iPads and iPods.

According to an article headline today on the launch of iOS 7 was “so massive it almost broke the Internet.” Hyperbole aside, it really was huge.

IT departments at many companies struggled to maintain the performance of their systems due to the significant spikes in Internet traffic going to as employees rushed to update their iPhones and iPads.

Individual users struggled too.

If you tried to download iOS right away, you likely experienced some of the issues I did: conflicting reports about the download being available, then not available. Unexpected error messages. Verrrrrrrrrry long download times.

I guess that’s to be expected when 200 million devices download a single update, which is the number of downloads Apple confirmed on Monday.

So, was it worth it? If you’ve downloaded iOS 7, you can tell us by leaving a comment below.

I’m personally enjoying it on my iPad. Looks good. Works well. The only problem is now I have to work a little harder to pry my iPad out of the hands of my kids.

Here’s a helpful list of 15 tricks to help you transition to iOS 7 from

And here are some links related to iPhones and iPads and EarthLink services:

We also offered perspectives on the recent Apple release news on our business-focused IT Insights blog:

Watching for the Smartwatches

As an ISP offering high-speed cable, DSL, satellite, and wireless 4G internet, along of course with basic dial-up access, EarthLink knows how important Internet access is to you.

We even know how much you want to stay connected on the go, based on the success of our new 4G Wireless Internet On-the-Go service.

But do you need it on your watch?

Smartwatches - Samsung Galaxy GearSome of the biggest names in technology seem to think so, which is why there’s been so much news about smartwatches lately. This new kind of watch pairs with a smartphone to provide on-the-go connectivity along with on-the-wrist convenience.

In June, Sony announced its SmartWatch 2, which has a 1.6-inch, 220 x 176 pixel display, Android compatibility, Bluetooth 3 and NFC for connectivity, a projected 3 to 4 day battery life, but no camera, microphone or speakers. The SmartWatch 2 should ship later this month with a price tag of around $260. Cnet has a review of the SmartWatch 2 here.

Just yesterday, smartphone leader Samsung announced that its Samsung Galaxy Gear (shown above) line of watches would be available on September 25.

The Galaxy Gear will have a 1.63-inch, 320×320 pixel AMOLED display, compatibility with new Galaxy smartphones (not older Galaxys or other Android phones), Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity, 1 day of expected battery life, 4G of online storage, a 1.9MP camera, 720p video recording, a speaker and two microphones. All for about $299. has a hands-on review with video here.

If you’re curious about either, offers a face-off of the Sony and Samsung smartwatches.

Other smartwatches in the works include the Toq from wireless chipmaker Qualcomm, which is expected in October. Cnet has a review of the Toq here.

Looking for a less expensive smartwatch? Or one that’s iPhone compatible? In both those cases, you may want to check out the Pebble, which is currently available for preorder. The $150 Pebble, which was an early Kickstarter success story, is compatible with both iPhones and Androids, has a 144×168 pixel e-paper display, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR and 4.0 connectivity, customizable watchfaces, and an expected 7-day battery life.

The most intense and persistent, yet unconfirmed, rumors have been about an upcoming Apple iWatch. has all the iWatch rumors here.

Think you’ll get a smartwatch? If so, let us know what you’ll be looking for. Not interested? Share your thoughts too. We always like to hear comments from our readers.

Apple News from the WWDC: What You Can Expect

Apple OS X Mavericks

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) – the conference of 6,000 that sold out in just 71 seconds – kicked off on Monday this week. From the keynote (click here for a live blog of the keynote on that day we learned quite a few things about what’s coming from Apple (keep in mind, most things are not coming now and not everything is coming at the same time).

Here are some of the highlights from the first day at the WWDC:

Two new Apple Operating Systems:

  • iOS 7: iOS is Apple’s mobile operating system, the operating system for iPhones and iPads. The coming iOS7 is supposed to provide users with a cleaner, simpler design – and it looks to be a significant departure from previous releases. New iOS7 features include AirDrop, a peer-to-peer networking and file sharing feature that uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; iTunes Radio (details below); multitasking (to catch up and perhaps surpass Android’s capabilities); auto-updating of apps; new camera features, including Instagram-like filters; a Control Center that puts your most-used settings in one place; FaceTime audio; and more. You can’t get iOS 7 just yet; it will go immediately to developers. The rest of us will need to wait until the next iPhone comes out, which is expected to be the fall. has a nice summary of iOS7 features with comparisons to Android.
  • OS X Mavericks: OSX is Apple’s desktop and laptop computer operating system. Previously named after wild cats (Lion, Leopard, etc.), OS X is now switching to a “California” theme (Mavericks is a popular surfing destination). Mavericks is supposed to deliver faster ways to multitask with Finder tabs. It will also let you put full screen apps on multiple monitors. Mavericks should deliver superior performance with a compressed memory capability. There will be a new iCloud Keychain to store all your passwords (for all Apple devices) online for security and convenient access. The Calendar, Notifications, and Maps are also getting an overhaul. For more details about the new OS X, see Like iOS 7, Mavericks is being delivered to developers this week but won’t reach consumers until the fall.

Two New Apple Computers:

  • MacBook Air: The laptop that ushered in the ultrabook craze (ultra-think, ultra-light, ultra-portable), is getting updated with faster chips and significantly longer battery life (reportedly 9 hours for the 11-inch model and 12 hours for the 13-inch). Graphics are also supposed to render faster, which is a big plus for gamers. Some were hoping for a new Retina display, which was not one of the upgrades. You can read a comparison of the Air and Retina Macbook Pro here on
  • Mac Pro: The black, cylindrical, futuristic design of the new Mac Pro (not to be confused with the Macbook Pro laptop) is sure to draw a lot of attention. But as a “professional” desktop/workstation computer, it’s a more of a niche product than most of the other new Apple products announced. So we won’t to a spec-by-spec review here. But Roger Scoble of the Pursuitist website wrote that it was “possibly the most amazing workstation ever. And the stunning design of the new Mac Pro had Gizmodo gushing about Apple’s “Brilliant Insanity.” Read the review here.

Two New Apple Services

  • iTunes Radio: As we predicted on the EarthLink Blog last week, Apple did indeed announce a customizable, free streaming music service, called iTunes Radio. The new ad-supported service, which will be included as a feature of iOS7 and iTunes for Windows and Mac desktops, gives users access to 35 million songs (compared to Spotify’s approximately 20 million) with unlimited free streaming on multiple devices (Spotify Free is limited after 6 months and doesn’t include mobile devices). Another cool feature: you can control iTunes Radio with your voice, via Siri on your mobile devices. On the downside, iTunes Radio doesn’t let you chose exactly which tracks or artists will play; you can only specify music similar to a specified artist, listen to one of the more than 200 genre-based stations, or listen to what’s trending on Twitter. Read a review of iTunes Radio on here.
  • Siri: The famous voice control feature of iOS, called Siri, is getting a makeover in iOS7. One of the most noticed changes is likely to be the voice of Siri: not only is it going to be more natural sounding, but you’ll get to choose a male or female voice in multiple languages. The new Siri will also be more helpful, searching the Web (via Bing) and your photos for you, reading you content from Wikipedia and Twitter, adjusting controls on your device, and allowing you to hear voicemails. Here’s what Apple has to say about Siri.

There were quite a few other announcements that we won’t go into detail about here. You can click to read more about updates to the Safari Web browser, iCloud, iWork for iCloud, and more. To catch up on everything, CNET has a great roundup of articles related to the Apple WWDC.