I used to think the important thing about backup was remembering to do it. And then, along came OneDrive (and iCloud and Dropbox) where you have the ability to sync your files to the cloud, and then forget about them.
The problem is—these services are not backup. Not really. These services are mirrors. Mirror backups create a mirror of the source file.
This is wonderful for when you are at the library with your laptop and want to work on a book that sits on your desktop at home. Plus, with mirroring, your backup is clean. There are no old and obsolete files.
Not only that, with mirroring, there is a Version History. If you don’t like the paragraph you edited, you can login to OneDrive, right click the file, choose Version History. And pick the version you want. If you accidently delete a file, you can still find it in the Cloud recycle bin – where it’s generally kept for 30 days. Basically, whatever you do on one computer migrates, automatically, up to the Cloud. Isn’t that wonderful?
Yes, it is, as long as you are the one who changes the file. But what if it’s a virus that the changes the file? What if it’s a ransomware virus?
The ransomware virus encrypts your files—they migrate to the Cloud—and overwrite what is there. Once the ransomware has encrypted the file, there is no Version History. No more backup.
This is what happened to me: It was a dark and stormy night. A perfect storm. I was tired. The email (supposedly) from USPS was well written. They were trying to contact me about a parcel. I was expecting a parcel. I clicked on the attachment . . .
foolish foolish foolish
It went something like this:
When all your files are encrypted, the virus gives you a screen with instructions for where you can go to pay in BIT coin for the key to unlock your files. In my case, I shut down the computer before everything migrated to the Cloud, and to my external hard drive which was plugged in to the computer. I was able to salvage some files, but I lost a lot of them.
Notice that the noun is more popular than the verb. Does this suggest that a backup is more popular than backing up? Probably.
How to backup your data.
It is a generally accepted rule that your files do not exist unless they are in three places: your hard drive, the Cloud, and an external hard drive.