Alex Kaloostian

Apple Certified Master Trainer | Systems Integrator | Video Editor | Motion Graphics Artist

Come on, back up yo stuff!

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In the past 2 weeks, I’ve heard of no fewer than four friends or friends-of-friends having their data lost by a drive crash, reformat or theft. In most of these cases, they were artists or creatives, freelancers, and their careers, their very livelihoods are now at risk. I’m not here to pile more pain on them or say I told you so. But I DO want to call them out as a warning to the rest of you.

Please, PLEASE back your stuff up! Its 2012, there are no more excuses. Hard drives are stupid cheap and the software is practically idiot proof now. Here’s how to back up your iPhone, iPad and Mac.


iPhone: Anyone with an iPhone should sign up for iCloud. I know you probably don’t need yet another email address or calendar syncing program, fine, don’t use them. But you also get 5GB of space for backups, and unlimited space to back up your photos, and its FREE.

1. Sign up at

2. Tap the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, tap iCloud, and sign in. Turn email, contacts and calendars on or off at your preference, were not hear to talk about that stuff.

3. At the bottom of the iCloud pane, tap Storage & Backup

4. turn on iCloud backup.

Thats it! Now, any day or night that your iPhone is a. Plugged in to power and b. on Wifi, it will automatically back up to the cloud. Now, it’s not going to back up everything in 5GB obviously. It WONT back up your Apps because you can re-download them from the App store, and it wont backup your music, movies and books, because theoretically you bought them and can re-download them from the iTunes store, or at least have another copy on your desktop. But it will backup your pictures, your settings, your IMs and stuff like that.

For even more security, plug your iPhone into your Mac or PC, open iTunes, and back it up to your PC. This will back up EVERYTHING, which is much more convenient when you want to restore everything with one click. And faster than Wifi. Im not going to go into exactly where to click, because its different in iTunes 9, 10 and 11, plus, you can automoatically back up or back up just once. will tell you everything you need to know to back up your iOS device to the cloud or to your PC.


Backing up your Mac is even easier with Time Machine. It’s in your System Preferences, and it will back up all your files to a hard drive (or alternate between multiple hard drives in Mountain Lion) automatically, every hour. Its an incremental back up, so after the first time, it will only back up files that have changed, making the process go much faster.

Get yourself a 500GB USB drive for $60 stinkin dollars at Sam’s Club and turn on Time Machine! Come on, seriously people, if this is your livelihood, you have NO excuse any more. In mountain Lion, you can even alternate between multiple destinations now, so you can have one on-site and one off-site backup, for example.

The best thing about Time Machine is, it doesn’t back up in some hidden database like some backup utilities. Your files and folders are still files and folders, and you can recover anything you want, any time. You’ll never have to decompress anything or pay a subscription fee.

If you’re on a laptop and using Lion or Mountain Lion, Time Machine will even cache your backups locally if you’re not connected to your backup drive, and dump them all to the drive the next time you plug it in. So you can even recover files you may have accidentally trashed, while you’re on a road trip and not connected to your backup drive. Its called local snapshots, and it’s a very nice feature. But it wont work ’till you turn it on!

Heres everything you need to know about Time Machine:

Here’s an article about local snapshots:

Here’s a great place to get awesome hard drives that are super fast and pretty and almost never fail:

And here’s a place to get good enough hard drives that are cheap:

Would anyone like to see a more detailed tutorial on iOS backups or Mac Backups? Leave a comment!

Author: alexkaloostian

I'm a video editor, motion graphics designer and Mac IT consultant in the Boston area.

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