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Backup Your Data: Start Preparing For The Digital Dark Age

Adam Manuel

With the recent Apple iOS 10 update, now seems like a good time to discuss the problems with NOT backing up your data. The digital dark age is upon us, and until tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft start reiterating the importance of backing up before launching new products and patches, our precious data will be lost forever. If you're planning on updating to Apple iOS 10, hold fire until you've read this article!

Within the first hour of the iOS 10 release the Internet was ablaze with angry Apple users who were stuck on the update/restore process. Apple were quick to release a statement, claiming to have quickly resolved the issue, and also apologized to customers who were affected. Those customers have lost their data forever; but still, no mention of backing up... This seems to be happening more and more frequently these days: the 2011 PlayStation Network outage, the recent Amazon Web Services outage. Both events caused a phenomenal loss of data.

Of course, routine Apple updates are not causing the looming digital dark age, but like all of the other outages and errors that are plaguing the tech world, they are certainly contributing. We rely on technology for everything, from work to managing our social lives. We even rely on it to strengthen our memories. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against forward thinking. I love technology! And especially the convenience that comes with it. I'm not saying we should slow down tech-development, I just think the importance of backing up should be given more attention.

Even Apple are behind the times when it comes to backing up users' data via their own software. For example, iTunes backups don't include synced content: music, playlists, photos, ebooks, etc. In order to thoroughly backup an iPhone to your computer, you will need additional software, such as TouchCopy. Most users who are responsible and back-up conscious don't even realize this, and are often left baffled and confused when they're finally forced to retrieve lost data.

Remember the Millennium Bug? It didn't lead to the apocalyptic catastrophe that many people were expecting, but at least it forced people to question the reliability of their computing. Just like we did in the buildup to the year 2000 we shouldn't be ignoring the possibility of a digital dark age, but preparing for it.

Which brings me to another thought. When was the last time you got photos developed? Burnt a video to a DVD or CD? Or transferred a valuable document onto a USB stick? Even these mediums have a limited lifespan. Believe it or not, it's actually getting harder and harder to save data. The storage mediums that we once relied on -- that hold our pre-Facebook memories -- are getting phased out of the picture. I just realized while writing the previous sentence that my laptop -- Alienware 15x -- doesn't even have a disc drive, and I've had it for more than a year! My point, don't rely on one backup device, as before you know it, it'll end up as inaccessible as the floppy disc.

In today's digital world we store our entire lives on our smart phones. Losing the data can not only be soul-destroying, but detrimental to the way we live. Backing up may not seem like a massive deal, it may not solve global hunger or cure diseases, but it's a very important aspect of our social history and self-preservation. Fundamentally, without both physical and Cloud-based backups, we will not only lose our sanity, but also our memories. So get yourself a hard drive, sign up to Dropbox (or whatever other web-based storage platform you prefer), and make sure you make data restoration an annual tradition. If not, you will one day regret it!

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