Make a Backup First

Mat Honan

Are you protecting your digital life?

I was reading in detail about the Apple / Amazon hack that targeted a Gizmodo writer.  A hacker used a few techniques to get from his Amazon account to his Apple account, his GMail, Twitter, and more. His iPhone, iPad, and Macbook were remotely wiped, and he ended up losing quite a bit of data that wasn’t backed up. That’s a horrible situation, and I know every time I’ve lost a picture or document at home, I regret not making another backup.

The situation caused some discussion and comments on Twitter about the various things you should do to prevent this type of issue. Updating your security, choosing better passwords, and other ideas are great, but the number one thing you need to do is make a backup of your data. No matter what happens to your security or even hardware, if you have a second copy of your data somewhere else, you can recover from the situation.

While listening to a Brent Ozar, PLF webinar recently, I heard this interview question: what is the first thing you do on a new server you’ve never worked with? The answer is ensure it’s being backed up. Not run a backup, since you can cause problems, but make sure there is a backup plan in place, or get one started as soon as possible. Why? Because if you have a backup, you can recover.

I think this is the number one priority for any data professional, and perhaps for anyone using a computer. I know I have backups of my home machines run to a Windows Home Server. I take a backup of my Macbook regularly, and leave a copy at home when I’m traveling. I also carry backups of my VMs on separate disks, in a separate suitcase when I travel. I know that if I have one of those copies of my data, I can recover from almost anything.

What’s the saddest part of this story? There wasn’t any intent (allegedly) to target the writer’s work or his data. The hacked just wanted to use his cool Twitter account, @mat.

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