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Back Up Without Breaking The Bank

Back Up Without Breaking The Bank

    A couple of months ago, I ran into one of my friends sobbing her eyes out. Her computer hard drive had died and she’d lost three years of graphic design work. Of course, it wasn’t backed up — she’d thought about it but hadn’t gotten around to picking up an external hard drive.

    I’ve heard this type of story hundreds of times. Every time I hear a new one, I think about how I’m going to do better at backing up my own work. I still don’t do a great job, but I do have all of my files backed up in one way or another. If I had a major data loss, I could replace most of my work pretty quickly.

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    Backing Up For Free

    Personally, I’m a big fan of data storage solutions that don’t require me to pay out any of my hard-earned dollars. I routinely email copies of files to my Gmail account and I have my most important files on Dropbox. Even better, neither of these methods really requires much technical knowledge — all though there are plenty of impressive hacks to improve on both methods.

    There are tons of other free online storage solutions: AOL runs Xdrive. IDrive is an encrypted option, with automatic backup. Humyo offers 10 gigs of space free.

    But I don’t entirely trust either system entirely. My worst nightmare is losing access to my Google account suddenly — and it could happen overnight. There’s not any sort of guarantee that free back up solutions will still be around after the end of the day. Xdrive is a case in point: AOL has been trying to sell it for a while now. They haven’t had much luck and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just quietly shut their doors one day.

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    While I’ll continue to use my free options — they’re the easiest for getting files back off of, for one thing — I do have a few other backup methods in place. Consider it a belts-and-suspenders situation.

    Backing Up For Minimal Expense

    In college, I backed up my important documents through the power of drag-and-drop. I bought an external hard drive — cheaper now, but not especially expensive even several years ago if you waited for sales. I dragged my folders over to the appropriate drive and went off to do something else.

    With the help of someone more adept at Linux than myself, that situation has improved. Sitting next to my main tower these days is a smaller box without any bells and whistles beyond a really big hard drive. Once a week, that puppy gets fired up and we run an rsync script which backs up everything on the computer I actually work on.

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    For those not familiar with rsync, it’s a free piece of software. It can be ran in three different ways

    1. From the command line
    2. As a script
    3. Scheduled through cron

    The script runs just fine on Macs. I don’t have a Windows system at this point but rsync seems to work with Windows — though it seems to require just a little bit more work, especially if you want it to run automatically.

    For those people less interest in mucking around with command lines and scripts, there are some fairly user-friendly computer applications available that handle automatically backing up your data to the location of your choice. Windows users: I’ve heard lots of good things about SyncBack (available in both paid and free versions). If you’re backing up to a remote location via FTP, SyncBack can handle that with ease. Mac users: It doesn’t get easier than Time Machine. Pretty much all you have to do is connect an external hard drive to your computer and open up the Time Machine application.

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    For all these options, your only real expense is a hard drive on which to back up your data. I generally believe that you should replace your hard drive every three to five years — but I haven’t shelled out for a RAID-quality or server-grade hard drive. Honestly, if you aren’t putting too much wear and tear on your back up hard drive, I don’t see the need for better quality, especially since big hard drives just keep getting cheaper.

    I know plenty of people who rely on thumb drives to back up their files, as well — at least in between larger back ups. They’re definitely cheaper than an extra hard drive, but I’ve always thought of them as less reliable. It’s not so much that I think they’re prone to failure — I just think they’re easier to lose than a larger hard drive and I don’t want to worry about leaving my only back up of a file at school or work.

    I Use Both

    I find it worth my while to back up my files to one of the online options and to my own back up machine. While there are plenty of disasters that can happen to online storage, there are just as many that can occur at home. Insurance might cover replacing a back up hard drive if it’s stolen — but it won’t bring back all your data. Using both methods provides you with the necessary belt-and-suspenders protection.

    Do you back up your files? Please let me know about any other great back up options I may have missed in the comments.

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    Published on November 19, 2020

    15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

    15 Great Macbook Accessories To Improve Productivity

    When looking to improve your workflow, you need to have a proper computer. And one of the most appealing computers out there is macbooks. These sleek transportable computers allow you to work anywhere at any time and provide a lot of functionality to their users.

    But sometimes, that’s not enough. In so many cases, you’re looking for more.

    While you could go for some productivity apps, there are actually a lot of macbook accessories available that will make your life easier in many ways. These extra accessories will allow your macbook to charge faster, hold more data, or keep it safe and protected while you travel around.

    Beyond that, there is a wide variety of accessories to pick from as many companies have jumped onto the bandwagon of supply to macbook users. Below we’ve listed off some of the greatest macbook accessories that’ll benefit your computer.

    What Makes For Great Macbook Accessories?

    Before getting into the list, we wanted to go over the criteria for what makes for great macbook accessories. The items that we’ve picked from this list will have the following criteria:

    • Reasonably priced – Accessories themselves shouldn’t break the bank compared to the large initial investment of a macbook.
    • Usability – All these accessories are practical in various situations, however, they also have extra features that make them useful in a few situations beyond their obvious functions.
    • Compact – Workflow is also about space in most circumstances. As such, anything that’s too bulky doesn’t help much. These accessories are either large on purpose – for storage of other items – or are nice and compact so they won’t get in the way.

    A USB Drive To Store Files Quickly Without Accessing The Cloud

      While you can always access the Cloud at any time, sometimes accessibility can be cumbersome or it takes time. Instead of trying to access files that way, getting a USB flash drive can save you plenty of time. Especially if your work entails providing presentations.

      The SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive is great as it offers USB-C and USB-A connectors allowing you to plug into virtually any device and transfer files and more between computers. Also, USB drives boast several hundred gigabytes these days making them solid storage devices.

      Buy SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive here.

      Compact Charger That Does More Than Charge

        Your default charger that comes with your MacBook is a good option for a charger, but these days chargers can offer so much more. This can help you speed up your workflow as you can be charging other devices or using the charger for other uses beyond charging.

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        In the case of the Anker PowerPort charger, it is more compact than the default charger. It also offers another USB-C connector allowing you to rapidly charge another gadget with it.

        Buy Anker PowerPort charger here.

        Port Adapter For Those With Multiple Devices

          One of the hard restrictions with a macbook is that it only has two USB-C ports. This is manageable for people with fewer gadgets but if you’re the kind who has several, it can interrupt your workflow if you need a particular device and you can’t charge it or access it.

          In this situation, a port adapter from Satechi can help. It offers multiple USB-C ports allowing you to use multiple devices. This can also help in organizing cords which we know can disrupt work. If the USB-C ports aren’t enough, it also comes with an SD card reader and ethernet cable port too.

          Buy Satechi Multi-Port Adapter here.

          A USB Cable That Isn’t As Intrusive Or Cumbersome To Use

          The USB-C cable that comes with Macbooks is small and is used to hook to an external monitor. By adding more length to them, you can have better cable management. One option that we found to be ideal was the Nomad Kevlar cable which offers enough length to do what you want while giving you more space to work with.

          Buy Nomad Kevlar USB-C Cable here.

          Screen Cleaning Your Laptop To See What You’re Doing

          Dust, particles and splotches are to be expected on laptop screens after a while. While you can work around these, sometimes they can obscure your vision at times. The same can apply to all devices these days.

          The only problem with many solutions on the market is that they can damage screens. Fortunately, we found a screen cleaning solution that doesn’t harm screens. ScreenDr Professional screen cleaning kit comes with a spray that’s safe for screens and an antimicrobial microfiber cloth to ensure you make the most of the spray.

          Buy ScreenDr Professional Screen Cleaning Kit here.

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          Card Reader That Speeds Up Photo Transfer Time

            If you’re looking for a standalone card reader for your work, getting a device designed for photo transferring and reading is essential. One of the best macbook accessories in this category we found was the Vanja card reader.

            This one is able to read SD and MicroSD cards while also transferring the pictures to a computer with ease thanks to its USB-C and USB 2.0 port options. It’s also small making it easy to carry around and is cheap to buy making it a great choice to pick up if you deal with plenty of pictures.

            Buy Vanja Card Reader here.

            Protective Sleeves To Protect Your Laptop From Harm

            For those who are travelling the last thing that you want is your laptop to get damaged for whatever reason. Even though you’re not likely to drop it as frequently as your phone, having a sleeve for a laptop to be in can save you time.

            One sleeve that we found interesting was the Native Union sleeves. They are made of tear-resistant material with genuine leather accents. Its interior is soft as well preventing scratches from your laptop. It also offers a pocket area where you can store cables and other macbook accessories easily.

            Buy Native Union’s laptop sleeve here.

            Car Charger For Charging On The Go

              For the person always driving around, a car charger is always a helpful tool to have when you’re on the go. The one from Anker is particularly helpful in a number of ways. Not only can this charge your macbook, but it also has an additional port for you to charge your phone if needed.

              It’s not the fastest charger out there when compared to the Macbook Pro adapter but it’s the highest in the market with an output power of 30 watts. For comparison, the second-fastest charging connector offers an output of 18 watts. Aside from that the charger has an illuminated LED ring for you to see it and the connectors late at night. It also has a function that ensures devices don’t experience surges or overheating from the charger itself.

              Buy Anker PowerDrive car charger here.

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              USB-C to USB-A Adapter Grants Access To Older Models

              If your older macbook still works but has files you want that you didn’t back up that you want this makes it easier to access them. It also allows you to access devices that have USB-A slots only. This can save you a lot of time if you are moving between older and newer devices.

              Buy Thunderbolt Adapter here.

              A Hardshell Case For Added Protection

              A sleeve is good for travel, but when you’re using it, having an extra layer of protection can be nice. Beyond that this hardshell case can also serve as additional protection from scratches and bumps too.

              Buy Incase Textured Hardshell case here.

              Alternative Sleeve For Those With Tighter Budgets But Want Protection

                If you are looking for an appropriate laptop sleeve but aren’t looking to spend too much, AmazonBasics brands are a good alternative. Their sleeves are elegant and still offer good protection from scratches as well. It also has a few pockets for small essentials too.

                Buy AmazonBasics laptop sleeve here.

                A Hub That Accommodates Several Ports At Once

                We’ve already mentioned a port before being a huge time saver thanks to it having various ports for different devices. This one is a great alternative as while it doesn’t offer as many USB-C ports, it offers more variety. Paired up with the design being the same color as the MacBook Air, it offers two USB-C connectors, two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and SD and microSD card readers.

                Buy Satechi Type C Pro Hub here.

                Earbuds To Deal With Fewer Headphone Cords

                  Cords are a common problem when boosting productivity at the desk and one way to mitigate them is to go wireless. If you are thinking about that, one option to consider is the Soundcore earbuds. These are cheaper than the traditional AirPods from Apple which can save you money.

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                  Furthermore, they deliver great sound and are connected via Bluetooth. The beauty of these earbuds is they can also cancel sound despite them being so compact. They also offer touch control allowing you to pause, play, skip music and answer calls.

                  Buy Soundcore Wireless Earphones here.

                  Desktop Stand To Save Desk Space

                    Desk space is another crucial part of productivity as things can get in the way and obstruct your work. In cases where you don’t need your laptop at the moment, having a stand where you can set it aside can be helpful.

                    In those situations, we recommend the Twelve South Book Arc. This neat Macbook accessor can save a tonne of space since it requires you to close your laptop in order to insert it into the stand. It also keeps it elevated from the surface which can protect it from spills

                    Buy Twelve South BookArc desktop stand here.

                    A Comfortable And Easy To Use Mouse For Faster Working Speed

                    The last of the macbook accessories we’ll talk about is a proper mouse. Logitech offers fantastic mouses and their Logitech MX Master 3 is one of the greatest wireless mouses out there. It’s ergonomic design, customizable buttons and insanely precise movement is fantastic. It also comes with a scrolling wheel for precise scrolling.

                    The battery power can last for months between charges and like all Logitech devices, it comes with a USB-C connector for charging.

                    Buy Logitech MX Master 3 Wireless Mouse here.

                    Bottom Line

                    There are many macbook accessories out there to improve your workflow. Taking the time to do research and invest in some of the best ones though will save you plenty of time, money and energy in the long term. At the same time, all of these accessories can help you with specific needs for whatever you are doing.

                    Featured photo credit: Viktor Ritsvall via unsplash.com

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