/*from pinterest*/

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.


Backup is the noun. “You made a backup, didn’t you?”

back up

The verb is two words. “If you have not yet done so, you should back up your data.”

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.

It’s fine to use the Cloud for the convenience of mirroring but you still need an external hard drive. And, you MUST disconnect the external hard drive from your computer after you have made your backup.

The virus crossed to the external hard drive and wrote over it as well.

Even better, keep the hard drive backup in a Safety Deposit Box in case your house burns down.
You might also want to use a REAL cloud backup service like Carbonite or Jungle Disk. They may not be completely up-to-date but it’s better than losing everything.

Antivirus Software

Of course, we all have antivirus software. But we need to listen to it. When I clicked on that attachment, my computer’s antivirus said “Do you REALLY want to allow this program to make changes to your computer?”
I have seen that warning so many times, and I was tired. The antivirus could have said:
Are you frigging serious?
Are you crazy?
Have you lost your mind?
And I still would have answered, Yes.

In Summary

Back up to an external hard drive, on a regular basis, and then disconnect that drive from the computer.
Store the backup in a Safety Deposit Box in case your house burns down.
If you use cloud backup, make sure it’s a Real Backup, like Jungle Disk or Carbonite. Or if you use free cloud backups/mirroring, drag and drop to them, but don’t sync to your computer.
And never check email when you are tired.
How do you back up? Are your files in three places? Have you ever encountered a ransomware virus? Do you check your email when you’re tired?
tired woman from iStockphoto.com_000009864226