Total Recall: Back Up Your Data to Protect Yourself

Last week, former Gizmodo writer Mat Honan had everything stolen and wiped by hackers. Everything. They wiped all his devices (Macbook Air, iPad, iPhone) and had access to all his online accounts, including his Gmail and Twitter. You can read the entire story on Mat’s blog, but the key takeaway is that hackers used Apple tech support to gain access to his iCloud and take over his entire digital life.time machine backup utility icon

So how do you keep yourself from being the victim of a hacking? To start, one method of backup is not enough, especially when that one method is in the cloud: it’s best to use an old-fashioned external hard drive backup too.

Mac users have it relatively easy, with the Time Machine backup utility designed by Apple for this exact purpose. Time Machine makes a copy of your hard drive, and then updates it as you make changes to your hard drive. Time Machine can be used with an external hard drive, or paired with Time Capsule, Apple’s external hard drive that doubles as a wireless device. Time Capsule comes with either 2 or 3 TB of storage, which should be enough storage for most users.

PC users will need to buy an external hard drive as well as one of the many backup softwares on the market. The good news is that a 2TB hard drive will only run you between $100-$200, and the backup utility Easeus-Todo is free as well as highly rated. Once you’ve downloaded and extracted Easeus, it’s simple to backup either all or part of your data, as well as schedule future backups so you’re always protected.

Once you have your data backed up on an external hard drive, it’s time to also make a copy in the cloud. From iCloud and Google Drive to Dropbox and Nexus, there are tons of backup options, which we will talk about in more detail later this week. For now, it’s enough to know that backing up — without the cloud — is still a must for the foreseeable future.

New iCloud is Imminent

Last week’s iPhone 4S release foreshadowed an iCloud release date this week.  Predictions were found to be accurate, and we now know the iCloud for iOS will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

While the official Apple press release states Oct. 12 as the iCloud release date, we have a preview of some of the features (the iCloud Beta download went live on Aug 2 so developers have been playing with these features for a couple of weeks now).  So, what can this new iCloud product do for you? Read More

Apple ditches MobileMe, introduces iCloud at exciting price point: free

Although Apple’s cloud services have been rumored for years, no real information has surfaced before today about exactly what to expect. But at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) today, Apple announced that they’re going cloud in a big way: starting this fall, MoibleMe (a paid service to synchronize your mail, contacts, and calendar) will be replaced by a new, free service called iCloud.

What is iCloud? At a basic level, it’s a replacement for all of the services that MobileMe used to cover: iCloud provides free synchronization for your Mail, Calendars and Contacts through new applications that push your updates to any iOS devices you may own, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Similarly, App Store and iBookstore purchases are now automatically synchronized between multiple devices. What does that mean for you? Hassle-free work from the field, with the same calendar and mail set-up on your phone or tablet (provided those phones and tablets are the iPhone and iPad!)

The real win for small business users comes in the form of document sync, however. Last week, Apple announced that their iWork suite of apps, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, we’re being ported to work not just on the iPad but also the iPhone and iPod touch. These apps, for those who aren’t familiar, are Apple’s answers to Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively.

Today Apple is announcing that their iWork suite of apps will allow document sync through their iCloud service, with 5GB free storage for documents. While 5GB isn’t a huge amount of storage for music or pictures, it translates into thousands of documents sync’d seamlessly across your devices. For users on the go, this may finally make Apple’s iWork suite of software a viable alternative to Microsoft’s suite of desktop software or even Google Documents.

A few other features of note: Apple is also announcing iBackup, a feature that securely backs up your iOS devices over Wi-Fi whenever you charge your devices. Not only are your apps, books, and music backed up, but also your device settings. This should make things easier for users upgrading from the iPad to the iPad 2, or from the iPhone 4 to whatever comes next from Apple. As well, it should relieve some stress from users worried about having to connect their iPad or iPhone to their computer via USB every time they want to manually backup their devices.

Other things like photo sync and iTunes in the cloud offer services to sync your photographs and music between devices, and you can read the full details in Apple’s press release.