Tag Archives: ConsumerBackup

Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide 2021

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-holiday-gift-guide-2021/

The holiday season is upon us, and here at Backblaze, we always love to see what cool, new things are out there for us to give to our friends and family. Every year, we ask our team members what gifts they’ll be giving (or treating themselves to) and share their ideas on our blog.

This year, our team’s gift ideas range from the latest in fitness trackers for the person who’s always on the go, to weighted blankets that keep you cozy, and helpful plant-rearing guides for blossoming green thumbs. Read on for some gift ideas that are sure to bring some holiday joy!

For Those Who Love Spending Time Outdoors


WHOOP is a fitness and health membership that offers a fitness tracker and an app that analyzes fitness, health, and sleep data as well as a way to connect with other WHOOP members. Their adjustable device can be worn with a range of garments or on their handy wristbands. And they’re stylish!

YETI Trailhead Camp Chair

Save yourself a seat wherever you are—the beach, the backyard, or the backcountry—with this lightweight camp chair.

ENO DoubleNest Printed Hammock

Don’t want to sit down after your hike? Lay down in this packable hammock instead!

Hidrate Spark 3 Smart Water Bottle

If you’re the type of person who needs to be reminded to drink water (me), this water bottle will glow when it’s time to hydrate. Luckily, it will not play obnoxious music.

And Those Who’d Rather Stay Home

Gravity Weighted Flannel Sherpa Blanket

Holiday season is also cozy season, and weighted blankets are arguably one of the best ways to enjoy it.

The New Plant Parent

If you or someone you know spent the early months of the pandemic transforming their home into a greenhouse (that also smelled of sourdough), this book provides all the houseplant tips and tricks they might need to keep their indoor garden thriving.

RENPHO Eye Massager

As many of us spend our days staring at screens that can strain our eyes over time, this eye massager is a great way to reduce tension and headaches. It even connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can choose music to play as it works. Not to be confused with an
Oculus Quest 2.

TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip

Every kid will want one of these to decorate their room. You can light up your house with this multicolor light strip, which you can control from your phone.

For Your Foodie Friend

Anova Precision Cooker Pro

Treat the home chef in your life to this super precise and powerful sous vide tool that’s a fan favorite with over 100 million cooks.

Hot Ones 10 Pack Sauce Kit

Everything tastes better with hot sauce, and this kit includes the full lineup from season 16 of “Hot Ones.”

Koffie Inja

This small batch coffee roaster uses sustainable and ethically-sourced coffee beans and donates 20% of their proceeds to Muttville, a San Francisco-based senior dog rescue shelter.

Games and Game-related Accessories

Nintendo Game and Watch: The Legend of Zelda

Retro game fans will enjoy this collectible game and watch that includes three Legend of Zelda games.

Legendary Edition of Curse of Strahd

Strahd is a TTRPG favorite and this edition comes with bonus encounters, finger puppets, and lots more!

Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard

This is the world’s first RGB, modular mechanical keyboard. It’s easily customizable and needs no setup. For when you need your clanky keys to light up!

For the Practical Person

Wemo WiFi Smart Plug

This smart plug uses your home Wi-Fi connection to let you control plugged-in devices from your phone or tablet. Neat!

Tile Combo Pack

Have a friend or family member who’s constantly losing their keys or phone (or themselves)? Help them keep track of their items with this combo pack that works with Android or Apple devices.

Fuzzy Lined Crocs

Are they the most fashionable? Maybe not. But they might be the most comfortable, especially with the warm and fuzzy liner!

Give the Gift of Backblaze

Help your friends and family back up their data with Backblaze Computer Backup. They’ll thank you for helping make sure they never lose a file again.

Happy Gift-giving From Backblaze

We hope this gift guide has helped spark some ideas for your own holiday gift-giving! Comment below to tell us what gifts you’ll be giving your friends and family this year.

The post Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide 2021 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Backblaze

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/who-ya-gonna-call-backblaze/

Halloween and its surrounding spooky season is my favorite time of the year. As the Computer Backup Steward at Backblaze, I often read people’s notes to us, which detail how we’ve helped them recover their files. As I was thinking about their experiences and our past Halloween blog posts detailing spooky data loss stories (Truly, what’s scarier than data loss?), I recalled a personal story that happened to my sister a few years ago when she was interning here at Backblaze. It reminded me that Backblaze Computer Backup doesn’t just recover people’s data, but we also help access it in times of need—which can be equally important. Like the Ghostbusters, when there’s something strange in your (data’s) neighborhood, who ya gonna call? …Backblaze, it’s Backblaze. So, on this, the Friday before Halloween, let me recount that tiny spooky tale for you today…

A long time ago, my sister Lisa was an intern with us here at Backblaze. It was just for a month, but she helped us build desks, digitized business cards (The horror!), and generally helped out around the office while getting a feel for working at a Silicon Valley tech startup. Like any good startup techie, after joining us for the summer, she started using Backblaze to back up her computer files, which makes sense because as a 19-year-old—a lot can happen to your computer.

My sister and I are really close, and we try to go on little trips together whenever possible. One of these opportunities arose in the form of a road trip from the San Francisco Bay to Los Angeles to see a comedy show. (For those curious, it was Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman recording their “Hollywood Babble-On” podcast.)

Driving down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles takes about five to six hours, sometimes longer depending on the traffic and where you’re headed. As we passed hour four, my sister turned to me and said, ”Hey, do I need my ID for this?” Cue: creepy forewarning music.

Now, this comedy show was held, oddly enough, in a comedy club (this sometimes happens when comedy is involved). An important thing to know about comedy clubs in general is that often they require people to be over 18, and are very serious about asking for ID so that underage people don’t imbibe, which makes sense—safety first.

So, yes. An ID was required, and yes she would need it, but no, she did not have it—nor her purse in general. Being an older brother is like that sometimes. I wasn’t about to turn around and drive back to San Francisco—partly because we had the show to go to that night, but also because I would get a bit of enjoyment from her having to sit outside while I enjoyed some comedy as a “lesson.” A sinister brotherly thought.

Luckily, I remembered that a few months back, my sister had to scan her passport as a PDF so that we could have a digital copy on another trip. I called up the comedy club and asked if they’d take a digital ID if we didn’t have a physical one, and while they were confused, they did say yes, so long as it was official. Good news! Once we arrived at the hotel, she logged on to Backblaze, found her backed up passport PDF, and we printed it out in the lobby. And we made it to the show on time. Happily ever after!

OK, so maybe it wasn’t really a horror story and the prospect of not making it to a comedy show may not seem scary to some people, but our family dynamic would mean that if she wasn’t able to attend and had to sit outside, she’d never have lived it down—low stakes slightly spooky (the best kind).

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How to Back Up Old Email Accounts

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-back-up-old-email-accounts/

Growing up, a common conversation I overheard between my mom and grandma went like this: “Do you have that recipe from our great aunt?”

“Sure, I do. Let me email it to you. Also, I have some funny jokes to forward along.”

My mom, and I’m guessing many others too, have kept every email they’ve ever received from their parents, family, and friends because they don’t want to lose the funny jokes, family recipes, announcements, and more that they’ve sent back and forth over the years. In the moment, our email accounts can feel like a day-to-day concern, or worse, a repository of spam. But for most of us, every email account holds some amount of treasured memories.

Nowadays, my mom has many different email accounts. But, she wanted to find a way to keep all of those emails she loved without having to keep the accounts themselves. She also found that she had so many emails in her inbox that she was running out of storage space.

Buying more storage can become expensive and doesn’t guarantee that those emails are safely backed up and remain accessible. One option is to download the emails, delete them in the client, and back them up somewhere reliable and accessible for the long term.

If you’re looking for a way to keep old emails or just want to clean up your inbox storage because you’re running out of space, this post walks you through the steps of how to download your data from various email platforms.

We’ve gathered a handful of guides to help you protect content across many different platforms—including social media, sync services, and more. We’re working on developing this list—please comment below if you’d like to see another platform covered.

Getting Started: How to Download One Email

If you know the exact email you want to make sure you have a copy of, it’s very easy to download it from any client.

For this example, we are going to use Gmail, but this should work for most email clients. If you run into an email client that it does not work with, feel free to note it in the comments below and we’ll update the guidance.

  1. Log in to the email address you would like to download a copy of the email from. (I’m using Gmail.)
  2. Find the email you would like to download. For this example, I will be downloading a family recipe sent by my mom.
  3. Select “Print” in the top right corner.
  4. When the print screen appears, save the email as a PDF on to your computer.
  5. And presto, you have a copy of that email you would like to save forever.

This process can be a bit tedious as you would have to download each email one at a time. It also can be tough if you don’t remember how to find the email you would like to save. If this is true, there are also ways that you can download all of your email data.

While there are other file formats you can download individual emails in, we strongly recommend that—if you want to be able to manage or search your old emails—you download all of your emails (which we explain how to do below). This provides the data in easily manageable formats and is far more time efficient.

Getting Serious: How to Download All of Your Emails

Below, I explain how to download your email data from two top free email websites. Don’t see the email platform you use? Leave a comment below and we’ll work to add material to help you!

How to Download Outlook Emails

A lot of people use Outlook for various reasons, often for work or school. If you downloaded Microsoft 365, then you also have access to Outlook email. To export your email from Outlook and save it as a PST file (don’t worry about what a PST file is quite yet, we’ll explain below), do the following:

  1. Sign in to your Outlook account.
  2. Click the gear button in the upper right corner.
  3. Scroll down on the settings panel to “View all Outlook settings.”
  4. Click on the button with a gear symbol labeled “General.”
  5. Select “Privacy and data” on the second panel that appears.
  6. On the right side, there will be a button labeled “Export mailbox.” Select this button.
  7. The button will grey out and a status update will appear to let you know the download is in progress.
  8. When the export is complete, we’ve found that Outlook may not notify your inbox. If this is the case, you will need to repeat steps one through five and navigate to the “Download here” button. This button will only appear once your emails are ready to download.
  9. Click “Download here” to download your PST file with all of your email data. (Scroll past the section on downloading Gmail data to learn what to do with this file type.)

How to Download Gmail Emails

In a previous post, we explained how to download all of your data from Google Drive. But, if you are just looking to download your Gmail data, here is a more detailed way to just do that.

  1. Log in to the Google Account you’d like to download your emails from.
  2. Once signed in, you will want to go to: myaccount.google.com.
  3. Go to the “Privacy & personalization” section and select “Manage your data & privacy.”
  4. On the next screen it takes you to, you’ll want to scroll down to a section labeled “Data from apps and services you use.” Here, you’ll select “Download your data” in the “Download or delete your data” section.
  5. From here, it’ll take you to the Google Takeout page. On this page, you’ll be given the option to select to download all of your Gmail emails and also your Google Chrome bookmarks, transactions from various Google services, locations stored in Google Maps, Google Drive contents, and other Google-related products you may use.
  6. If you want to download all your Google data, keep everything selected. If you just want a copy of your emails, deselect all and only select Google Mail to be downloaded.
  7. Click the next step on the bottom of the page.
  8. On the next page, you’ll decide what file type you would like it sent as, the frequency you would like this action to happen (Example: If you would like your data to be downloaded every six months, this is where you can set that to happen.), and the destination you would like your data to be sent to. For this example, I picked a one time download.
  9. Select “Create export” and you’ll see an export in progress page.
  10. An email will appear in a few minutes, hours, or a couple of days (depending on the size of data you are downloading), informing you that your Google data is ready to download. Once you have this email in your inbox, you have a week to download the data. Click the “Download your files” button in the email and you will have a ZIP file or a TGZ file (depending on what type of file you picked) on your computer with your Google data.
  11. When you open the ZIP, you will have all of your emails (including spam and trash) in an MBOX file.

What Is a PST File? What Is a MBOX File? How Do I Open Them?

A PST file is used by Microsoft programs to store data and items such as email messages, calendar events, and contacts. By moving items to an Outlook Data File (also known as a PST file) saved to your computer, you can free up storage space in the mailbox on your mail server. If you would like to make this file usable by other email clients, here’s a guide on how to convert your newly downloaded PST file to a MBOX file type.

An MBOX file is an email mailbox saved in a mail storage format used for organizing email messages in a single text file. It saves messages in a connected order where each message is stored after another, starting with the “From” header.

To open a MBOX file, you will need a third-party email program, such as Apple Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird. We recommend Mozilla Thunderbird, as it’s a free email client and it’s supported by both Macs and PCs.

This step is helpful if you would like to view the emails you downloaded. It also helps if you were looking to take the emails you downloaded and move them to a new inbox. For example, if you are afraid the email account you’ve used to sign up for everything over the past 10 years is vulnerable, you can download the emails from that inbox and move them to a new inbox using Apple Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird.

Great, now you’ve downloaded your emails. You’re not done yet! Read on to learn how to safely back up your emails so that you can hold on to them forever.

Use Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Buckets to Keep an Organized Archive of Your Emails

Once you have your email data downloaded to your computer, it’s best practice to make sure that you have at least one copy of your data stored off-site in the cloud. Storing it in the cloud alongside two local copies ensures you never lose all those important emails.

A simple way to do this is with Backblaze B2, where you can upload and organize your files in buckets. To upload your files to a bucket, follow the steps below.

  1. Sign in to your Backblaze account.
  2. In the left hand column, select “Buckets” under the section “B2 Cloud Storage.”
  3. Click on the button “Create a bucket.”
  4. In the next step, you will need to create a unique name for your bucket and select some settings for it, like if it will be public or private or if you would like to enable encryption.
  5. Once the bucket is created, it will take you to a page where you can upload your files. You will want to drag and drop the email files you want to upload to it. If the MBOX file is too large to drag and drop into the bucket, you can use a third-party integration like Cyberduck to facilitate the upload. You can read the guide to using Cyberduck for Backblaze B2 bucket uploads here.

Alternatively, if you’re not worried about organizing or working with your email archives and just want to know they’re stored away safely, you can keep your downloaded files on your computer. If you follow this route, remember to sign up for a backup service that makes a copy of all of your computer’s files in the cloud. In the case of any data loss, a service like Backblaze Computer Backup would have a copy of all of your data ready for you to restore. If your email applications are locally stored on your computer, Backblaze will automatically back up your emails. You can learn more about how this works here. This approach will take up more room on your computer, but it’s a simple path to peace of mind.

From here, your MBOX file with all your emails from your family, friends, and reminders to yourself (We all have those!) will be safe in the cloud. If you ever want to pull out the archive and read the emails you saved, remember to use the third-party tools mentioned above. What’s important is that you have all your memories stored, safely with a provider who will ensure their redundancy and reliability.

Have questions or want to see a guide for an email client we didn’t mention above? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

The post How to Back Up Old Email Accounts appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Back to School, Backup for School

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/back-to-school-backup-for-school/

Students are starting to head back to the classroom all over the world and, while the timing might be the same, the way we’re thinking about school has changed a lot recently. Schoolwork and projects that previously would have been printed out and handed in have moved online along with classrooms and collaboration. The amount of flexibility this has allowed teachers, parents, students, and childcare professionals is great, but it also means that more schoolwork than ever is at risk of data loss.

As young folks are heading back to classrooms, especially those heading off to college farther afield, now is a great time to help teach the value of backing up their data.

Whether they are in person, online, or on a hybrid system, students will still be creating, collaborating, and consuming files on their computers. Setting them up with a backup service, or helping them install one can prevent them from calling you late at night in a panic after spilling Redbull or coffee on the machine they’re diligently (we’re sure) doing schoolwork on.

Backup Basics: The 3-2-1 Approach

Spilling something and frying the electronics inside of a computer is not the only way to lose data, so having an all-encompassing view to data care is important. At Backblaze, we recommend the 3-2-1 backup approach. That means keeping:

  • Three copies of your data.
  • Two copies of your data on-site but on different devices. (For example, on your computer and an external hard drive.)
  • One copy of your data off-site. (For example, in the cloud.)

Best Practices for Students

In addition to your basic 3-2-1 approach, there are a few best practices students can follow (and parents can encourage) to help them avoid scrambling to find their term paper the night before the final, including:

  • Instituting naming conventions.
  • Keeping data in a central repository.
  • Automating backups.
  • Creating archives.

Institute Naming Conventions

One common way of losing data is simply forgetting where it was created or saved, similar to misplacing a pair of keys. The easiest way to combat that is to have clear naming conventions for your folders and files and to use them consistently. Having a folder for every year of study, then semester, or quarter inside of it, then class inside of that, helps categorize data and is a great way to start building up good data hygiene.

Keep Data in a Central Repository

A typical student’s data is scattered across a variety of devices, apps, clouds, and computers—we call this “data scatter.” Even if they are using good data hygiene when naming and organizing these various locations, having a central repository—even if just for final documents—is important.

When they have their data in one centralized location, students can back it up frequently, so that even if work is lost from a collaborative place (like someone deleting a file or presentation from a shared folder), they’ll still have a copy locally and in an accessible location.

Automate Backups

Once the data is saved to the new location, the next best thing to do is make sure that there are automated backups running, so that—should anything happen to that machine or device—the data will still be accessible somewhere else (all part of the 3-2-1 strategy).

When selecting a backup tool, you want to look for something simple, affordable, and most importantly, accessible. That’s where apps like Backblaze really shine when it comes to computer backup, since they are designed to be unobtrusive, and the backed up data can be accessed anywhere in the world via web or mobile apps.

Create Archives

Creating archives is another tool in the fight to combat data loss and maintain good data hygiene. Archives differ from backups in that they tend to be permanent. Backups tend to be on a rolling basis (similar to an alarm system keeping a certain amount of video before it gets recycled—the thought being, if something happens you can recover the video for a certain period of time, but if nothing occurs it’s better to get that space back).

Archives, on the other hand, are more immutable in nature. Once you have an archive, it’s rare to remove it, unless you want to get rid of everything associated with it. There are many methods that people employ to archive their data, including having hard drives for every month or year that they create an archive for, but there are online tools as well. Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage has an Object Lock feature which allows users to upload data and have it stay there until expressly deleted by the user.

Backing Up Your Student’s Social Life

It’s probably not your top priority, but your student is likely just as concerned with backing up their social profiles and photos as they are with backing up their Econ 101 homework. Fortunately, we’ve got both covered. To help your student back up their digital social life, we put together a few handy guides:

How to Get Started

The best time to start backing up is now. If Backblaze is a good choice for your family and school-aged kiddos, there’s a few ways to get started:

  • Here’s how to set up Backblaze on your kid’s computer before they head off to college:
    • Sign up for an account, and install Backblaze on your student’s computer. You can find our guides to installing on Mac here, and on Windows here.
    • Once you have installed the software, you can select what hard drives should be backed up, set your backup schedule, or change your performance settings. For more on how to do that, you can check out our Mac Settings Overview and Windows Settings Overview.
    • You can set up payment in the Billing section under My Account when you sign in to Backblaze.
    • If your student needs to restore a file, they can follow the steps here.
  • If your kid is more of a self-starter, send them a gift code—that way you’ll cover their first year, and after that it’s on them to handle the payment and maintenance (good for those who value their independence but maybe just need a jump-start): https://backblaze.com/gift.htm.
  • Consider using a Backblaze Group! A few years ago we wrote about how our Groups feature can help families maintain their digital lives, and you can read it here. This option is great if you have many family members, or if you just want one central place to manage billing for multiple accounts.
    • If you are a Backblaze customer, simply log in to Backblaze.com, go to the Settings page, and enable Business Groups. Once done, you can navigate to the Groups Management page and get started. More information on creating a Group can be found here.
    • If you are not yet a Backblaze customer and like the Groups approach, you can create a new Backblaze account with Groups enabled here.

Just like developing good habits for anything else, a strong understanding of data, where it lives, how it can be lost, and how to save it can be an incredibly important skill to develop. As the amount of data in the world increases and it increasingly becomes the digital world’s most precious resource, maintaining it will become one of the more important habits we can instill in our younger generations!

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Getting Rid of Your PC? Here’s How to Wipe a Windows SSD or Hard Drive

Post Syndicated from Molly Clancy original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-wipe-pc-ssd-or-hard-drive/

Securely Erasing PC Drives

Are you hanging on to an old PC because you don’t know how to scrub the hard drive clean of all your personal information? Worried there’s data lurking around in there even after you empty the recycle bin? (Yes, there is.)

You always have the option of taking a baseball bat to the thing. Truly, physical destruction is one way to go (more on that later). But, there are much easier and more reliable, if less satisfying, ways to make sure your Windows PC is as clean as the day it left the factory.

First Things First: Back Up

Before you break out the Louisville Slugger (or follow our simple steps below), make sure your data is backed up as part of a 3-2-1 backup strategy where you keep three copies of your data on two types of media with one off-site. Your first copy is the one on your computer. Your second copy can be kept on an external hard drive or other external media. And the third copy should be kept in an off-site location like the cloud. If you’re not backing up an off-site copy, now is a great time to get started.

Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, and 11 all have basic utilities you can use to create a local backup on an external hard drive that you can use to move your files to a new computer or just to have a local backup for safekeeping. Once you’re backed up, you’re ready to wipe your PC’s internal hard drive.

How to Completely Wipe a PC

First, you’ll need to figure out if your Windows PC has a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). Most desktops and laptops sold in the last few years will have an SSD, but you can easily find out to be sure:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Type “Defragment” in the search bar.
  3. Click on “Defragment and Optimize Your Drives.”
  4. Check the media type of your drive.

screenshot for selecting drive to wipe clean

How to Erase Your Windows Drive

Now that you know what kind of drive you have, there are two options for wiping your PC:

  1. Reset: In most cases, wiping a PC is as simple as reformatting the disk and reinstalling Windows using the Reset function. If you’re just recycling, donating, or selling your PC, the Reset function makes it acceptably difficult for someone to recover your data, especially if it’s also encrypted. This can be done easily in Windows versions 8, 8.1, 10, and 11 for either an HDD or an SSD.
  2. Secure Erase Using Third-party Tools: If Reset doesn’t make you feel completely comfortable that your data can’t be recovered, or if you have a PC running Windows 7 or older, you have another option. There are a number of good third-party tools you can use to securely erase your disk, which we’ll get into below. These are different depending on whether you have an HDD or an SSD.

Follow these instructions for different versions of Windows to reset your PC:

How to Wipe a Windows 10 and 11 Hard Drive

  1. Go to Settings → System (Update & Security in Windows 10) → Recovery.
  2. Under “Reset this PC” click “Reset.” (Click “Get Started” in Windows 10.)
  3. Choose “Remove everything.” (If you’re not getting rid of your PC, you can use “Keep my files” to give your computer a good cleaning to improve performance.)
  4. You will be prompted to choose to reinstall Windows via “Cloud download” or “Local reinstall.” If you’re feeling generous and want to give your PC’s next owner a fresh version of Windows, choose “Cloud download.” This will use internet data. If you’re planning to recycle your PC, “Local reinstall” works just fine.
  5. In “Additional settings,” click “Change settings” and toggle “Clean data” to on. This takes longer, but it’s the most secure option.
  6. Click “Reset” to start the process.

How to Wipe a Windows 8 and 8.1 Hard Drive

  1. Go to Settings → Change PC Settings → Update and Recovery → Recovery.
  2. Under “Remove everything and reinstall Windows,” click “Get started,” then click “Next.”
  3. Select “Fully clean the drive.” This takes longer, but it’s the most secure option.
  4. Click “Reset” to start the process.

Secure Erase Using Third-party Tools

If your PC is running an older version of Windows or if you just want to have more control over the erasure process, there are a number of open-source third-party tools to wipe your PC hard drive, depending on whether you have an HDD or an SSD.

Secure Erase an HDD

The process for erasing an HDD involves overwriting the data, and there are many utilities out there to do it yourself:

  1. DBAN: Short for Darik’s Boot and Nuke, DBAN has been around for years and is a well-known and trusted drive wipe utility for HDDs. It does multiple pass rewrites (binary ones and zeros) on the disk. You’ll need to download it to a USB drive and run it from there.
  2. Disk Wipe: Disk Wipe is another free utility that does multiple rewrites of binary data. You can choose from a number of different methods for overwriting your disk. Disk Wipe is also portable, so you don’t need to install it to use it.
  3. Eraser: Eraser is also free to use. It gives you the most control over how you erase your disk. Like Disk Wipe, you can choose from different methods that include varying numbers of rewrites, or you can define your own.

Keep in mind, any disk erase utility that does multiple rewrites is going to take quite a while to complete.

If you’re using Windows 7 or older and you’re just looking to recycle your PC, you can stop here. If you intend to sell or donate your PC, you’ll need the original installation discs (yes, that’s discs with a “c”…remember? Those round shiny things?) to reinstall a fresh version of Windows.

Secure Erase an SSD

If you have an SSD, you may want to take the time to encrypt your data before erasing it to make sure it can’t be recovered. Why? The way SSDs store and retrieve data is different from HDDs.

HDDs store data in a physical location on the drive platter. SSDs store data using electronic circuits and individual memory cells organized into pages and blocks. Writing and rewriting to the same blocks over and over wears out the drive over time. So, SSDs use “wear leveling” to write across the entire drive, meaning your data is not stored in one physical location —it’s spread out.

When you tell an SSD to erase your data, it doesn’t overwrite said data, but instead writes new data to a new block. This has implications for erasing your SSD—some of your data might be hanging around your SSD even after you told it to be erased until such time as wear leveling decides the cells in that block can be overwritten. As such, it’s good practice to encrypt your data on an SSD before erasing it. That way, if any data is left lurking, at least no one will be able to read it without an encryption key.

You don’t have to encrypt your data first, but if Windows Reset is not enough for you and you’ve come this far, we figure it’s a step you’d want to take. Even if you’re not getting rid of your computer or if you have an HDD, encrypting your data is a good idea. If your laptop falls into the wrong hands, encryption makes it that much harder for criminals to access your personal information.

Encrypting your data isn’t complicated, but not every Windows machine is the same. First, check to see if your device is encrypted by default:

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Scroll to the “Windows Administrative Tools” dropdown menu.
  3. Select “System Information.” You can also search for “system information” in the taskbar.
  4. If the “Device Encryption Support” value is “Meets prerequisites,” you’re good to go—encryption is enabled on your device.

If not, your next step is to check if your device has BitLocker built in:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Type “BitLocker” in the search bar.
  3. Click “Manage BitLocker.”
  4. Click “Turn on BitLocker” and follow the prompts.

If neither of those options are available, you can use third-party software to encrypt your internal SSD. VeraCrypt and AxCrypt are both good options. Just remember to record the encryption passcode somewhere and also the OS, OS version, and encryption tool used so you can recover the files later on if desired.

Once you’ve encrypted your data, your next step is to erase, and you have a few options:

  1. Parted Magic: Parted Magic is the most regularly recommended third-party erase tool for SSDs, but it does cost $11. It’s a bootable tool like some of the HDD erase tools—you have to download it to a USB drive and run it from there.
  2. ATA Secure Erase: ATA Secure Erase is a command that basically shocks your SSD. It uses a voltage spike to flush stored electrons. While this sounds damaging (and it does cause some wear), it’s perfectly safe. It doesn’t overwrite the data like other secure erase tools, so there’s actually less damage done to the SSD.

The Nuclear Option

When nothing less than total destruction will do, just make sure you do it safely. I asked around to see if our team could recommend the best way to bust up your drive. Our Senior Systems Administrator, Tim Lucas, is partial to explosives, but we don’t recommend it. You can wipe an HDD with a magnet, otherwise known as “degaussing,” but a regular old fridge magnet won’t work. You’ll need to open up your PC and get at the hard drive itself, and you’ll need a neodymium magnet—one that’s strong enough to obliterate digits (both the ones on your hard drive and the ones on your hand) in the process. Not the safest way to go, either.

If you’re going to tear apart your PC to get at the HDD anyway, drilling some holes through the platter or giving it an acid bath are better options, as our CEO, Gleb Budman, explained in this Scientific American article. Drilling holes distorts the platter, and acid eats away at its surface. Both render an HDD unreadable.

Finally, we still stand by our claim that the safest and most secure way to destroy an HDD, and the only way we’d recommend physically destroying an SSD, is to shred it. Check with your local electronics recycling center to see if they have a shredder you can use (or if they’ll at least let you watch as giant metal gears chomp down on your drive). Shredding it should be a last resort though. Drives typically last five to 10 years, and millions get shredded every year before the end of their useful life. While blowing up your hard drive is probably a blast, we’re pretty sure you can find something even more fun to do with that old drive.

Still have questions about how to securely erase or destroy your hard drives? Let us know in the comments.

The post Getting Rid of Your PC? Here’s How to Wipe a Windows SSD or Hard Drive appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs. Solid-state Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hdd-versus-ssd-whats-the-diff/

whats the diff? SSD vs. HDD

This blog post was originally published in March 2016 and was updated in September 2018. Since then, HDD and SSD drive technology continues to improve, so we’re sharing our latest update to this post.

Between all of the different computer drives available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the differences between them. The two fundamental drives you should know the differences between are hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs). You might be wondering, what’s the difference between a HDD and a SSD? Which drive is best to use? What kind of drive is more likely to fail?

We spend a lot of time thinking about HDDs and SSDs, so we know that using either drives comes with its advantages and disadvantages. If you’re looking to upgrade your computer with a new drive, or you’re curious about the best uses for either kind of drive, it’s helpful to have a side-by-side comparison of each option. So, we developed this “What’s the Diff” post to help break down the differences between these two drive types. Read on to learn how far drive technology has come over the years and how to make the best decision for your data storage needs.

In This Corner: The Hard Disk Drive

The traditional spinning hard drive has been a standard for many generations of personal computers. Constantly improving technology has enabled hard drive makers to pack more storage capacity than ever, at a cost per gigabyte that still makes hard drives the best bang for the buck.

IBM RamacAs sophisticated as they’ve become, hard drives have been around since 1956. The ones back then were two feet across and could store only a few megabytes of information, but technology has improved to the point where you can cram 10 terabytes into something about the same size as a kitchen sponge.

Inside a hard drive is something that looks more than a bit like an old record player: There’s a platter, or stacked platters, which spin around a central axis—a spindle—typically at about 5,400 to 7,200 revolutions per minute. Some hard drives built for performance work faster.

Hard Drive exploded viewInformation is written to and read from the drive by changing the magnetic fields on those spinning platters using an armature called a read-write head. Visually, it looks a bit like the arm of a record player, but instead of being equipped with a needle that runs in a physical groove on the record, the read-write head hovers slightly above the physical surface of the disk.

The two most common form factors for hard drives are 2.5 inch, common for laptops, and 3.5 inch, common for desktop machines. You will also find external drives with 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch drives. The size is standardized, which makes for easier repair and replacement when things go wrong.

The vast majority of drives in use today connect through a standard interface called Serial ATA (or SATA). Specialized storage systems sometimes use Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), Fibre Channel, or other exotic interfaces designed for special purposes.

Hard Disk Drives Cost Advantage

Proven technology that’s been in use for decades makes hard disk drives cheap—much cheaper, per gigabyte than SSDs. HDD storage can run as low as three cents per gigabyte. You don’t spend a lot but you get lots of space. HDD makers continue to improve storage capacity while keeping costs low, so HDDs remain the choice of anyone looking for a lot of storage without spending a lot of money.

The downside is that HDDs can be power-hungry, generate noise, produce heat, and don’t work nearly as fast as SSDs. Perhaps the biggest difference is that HDDs, with all their similarities to record players, are ultimately mechanical devices. Over time, mechanical devices will wear out. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

HDD technology isn’t standing still, and price per unit stored has decreased dramatically. As we said in our post, “HDD vs. SSD: What Does the Future for Storage Hold?—Part 2,” the cost per gigabyte for HDDs has decreased by two billion times in about 60 years.

HDD manufacturers have made dramatic advances in technology to keep storing more and more information on HD platters—referred to as areal density. As HDD manufacturers try to outdo each other, consumers have benefited from larger and larger drive sizes. One technique is to replace the air in drives with helium, which reduces reduces friction and supports greater areal density. Other recent technologies include microwave and heat-assisted magnetic recording, or MAMR and HAMR, respectively. HAMR records magnetically using laser-thermal assistance and MAMR uses a microwave-generating device called a spin-torque oscillator or a laser to hold more data on a drive platter. These drives are in the early stages of being manufactured and shipped out to enterprise partners.

The continued competition and race to put more and more storage in the same familiar 3.5 inch HDD form factor means that it will be a relatively small, very high capacity choice for storage for many years to come.

In the Opposite Corner: The Solid-state Drive

SSDs have become much more common in recent years. They’re standard issue across Apple’s laptop line, for example the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air all come standard with SSDs. So does the Mac Pro.

Inside an SSDSolid state is industry shorthand for an integrated circuit, and that’s the key difference between an SSD and a HDD: there are no moving parts inside an SSD. Rather than using disks, motors and read-write heads, SSDs use flash memory instead—that is, computer chips that retain their information even when the power is turned off.

SSDs work in principle the same way the storage on your smartphone or tablet works. But the SSDs you find in today’s Macs and PCs work faster than the storage in your mobile device.

The mechanical nature of HDDs limits their overall performance. Hard drive makers work tirelessly to improve data transfer speeds and reduce latency and idle time, but there’s a finite amount they can do. SSDs provide a huge performance advantage over hard drives—they’re faster to start up, faster to shut down, and faster to transfer data.

If you’re still using a computer with a SATA hard drive, you can see a huge performance increase by switching to an SSD. What’s more, the cost of SSDs has dropped dramatically over the course of the past couple of years, so it’s less expensive than ever to do this sort of upgrade.

A Range of SSD Form Factors

SSDs can be made smaller and use less power than hard drives. They also don’t make noise, and can be more reliable because they’re not mechanical. As a result, computers designed to use SSDs can be smaller, thinner, lighter and last much longer on a single battery charge than computers that use hard drives.

SSD Conversion KitMany SSD makers produce SSD mechanisms that are designed to be plug-and-play drop-in replacements for 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch hard disk drives because there are millions of existing computers (and many new computers still made with hard drives) that can benefit from the change. They’re equipped with the same SATA interface and power connector you might find on a hard drive.


Intel SSD DC P4500A wide range of SSD form factors are now available. Memory Sticks, once limited to 128MB maximum, now come in versions as large as 2TB. They are used primarily in mobile devices where size and density are primary factor, such as cameras, phones, drones, and so forth. Other high density form factors are designed for data center applications, such as Intel’s 32TB P4500. Resembling a standard 12 inch ruler, the Intel SSD DC P4500 has a 32TB capacity. Stacking 64 extremely thin layers of 3D NAND, the P4500 is currently the world’s densest SSD. The price is not yet available, but given that the DC P4500 SSD requires only one-tenth the power and just one-twentieth the space of traditional hard disk storage, once the price comes out of the stratosphere you can be sure that there will be a market for it.

Nimbus ExaDrive 100TB SSDIn 2018, Nimbus Data announced the ExaDrive D100 100TB SSD. This SSD by itself holds over twice as much data as Backblaze’s first Storage Pods. When it was first released, the Exadrive was only available on demand, but in 2020, the company announced its first online pricing of the drive. The 100TB version of the Exadrive now retails for $40,000 while the 50TB version retails at $12,500.

SSD drive manufacturers also are chasing ways to store more data in ever smaller form factors and at greater speeds. The familiar SSD drive that looks like a 2.5 inch HDD drive is starting to become less common. Given the very high speeds that data can be read and copied to the memory chips inside SSDs, it’s natural that computer and storage designers want to take full advantage of that capability. Increasingly, storage is plugging directly into the computer’s system board, and in the process taking on new shapes.

Anand Lal Shimpi, anandtech.com -- http://www.anandtech.com/show/6293/ngff-ssds-putting-an-end-to-proprietary-ultrabook-ssd-form-factors

A size comparison of an mSATA SSD (left) and an M.2 2242 SSD (right).

Laptop makers adopted the mSATA, and then the M.2 standard, which can be as small as a few squares of chocolate but have the same capacity as any 2.5 inch SATA SSD.

Another interface technology called NvM Express or NVMe has now moved from servers in data centers to consumer laptops. Connecting to the PCI Express (PCIe) slot instead of using SATA bandwidth, NVMe SSDs can reach higher read-write speeds than SATA SSDs, but can retail at almost double the price of a SATA SSD. For more information on the difference between M.2 drives and NVMe drives, see this post.

SSDs Fail Too

Just like hard drives, SSDs can wear out, though for different reasons. With hard drives, it’s often just the mechanical reality of a spinning motor that wears down over time. Although there are no moving parts inside an SSD, each memory bank has a finite life expectancy—a limit on the number of times it can be written to and read from before it stops working. Logic built into the drives tries to dynamically manage these operations to minimize problems and extend its life.

For practical purposes, most of us don’t need to worry about SSD longevity. An SSD you put in your computer today will likely outlast the computer. But it’s sobering to remember that even though SSDs are inherently more rugged than hard drives, they’re still prone to the same laws of entropy as everything else in the universe.

Pros and Cons of HDDs vs. SSDs

  Pros Cons
HDDs Budget-friendly.
Lots of storage space.
Standardized sizes make repairs and replacement easier.
Use a lot of power.
Moving parts make them prone to wearing out over time.
Slower than SSDs.
SSDs Faster than HDDs.
Don’t generate noise.
Use less power than HDDs.
Wide range of form factors.
No moving parts make them more durable than HDDs.
Less storage capacity than HDDs.
Can be expensive.
Difficult to recover data if it fails.

Planning for the Future of Storage

Whether you’re using a HDD or an SSD, a good backup plan is essential because eventually any drive will fail. You should have a local backup combined with secure off-site backup, which satisfies the 3-2-1 backup strategy. To help get started, make sure to check out our Backup Guide.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some insight about HDDs and SSDs. And as always, we encourage your questions and comments, so fire away!

•  •  •

You might enjoy reading other posts in our SSD 101 series, and more about SSD reliability.

The post Hard Disk Drive (HDD) vs. Solid-state Drive (SSD): What’s the Diff? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-wipe-a-mac-hard-drive/

erasing a hard drive and a solid state drive

What do I do with a Mac that still has personal data on it? Do I take out the disk drive and smash it? Do I sweep it with a really strong magnet? Is there a difference in how I handle a hard drive (HDD) versus a solid-state drive (SSD)?

Well, taking a sledgehammer or projectile weapon to your old machine is certainly one way to make the data irretrievable, and it can be enormously cathartic as long as you follow appropriate safety and disposal protocols. But there are far less destructive ways to make sure your data is gone for good. Let me introduce you to secure erasing.

Your computer and the external drives you may use store all of your personal data. The computer’s drive will contain all of your emails, contacts, documents, and more—in other words, all of the sensitive data that you wouldn’t want to share with other people. Hackers looking to exploit data that provides access to passwords or your identity are particularly interested in getting their hands on this data. Before you get rid of your old computer, whether that’s tossing it or selling it, it’s best practice to ensure all of that data has been securely erased from your drive so that it can’t be accessed by anyone else.

Which Type of Drive Do You Have?

Before we start, you need to know whether you have a HDD or a SSD. Around 2010, Apple moved to using only SSD storage in its devices, although its desktop computers continue to offer the option of both SSD and HDD storage. Apple also now features devices with Flash SSDs, a hybrid of HDDs and SSDs. If you bought your device before 2010 or you have a desktop computer, there’s a chance you may be using an HDD. For people using older models, you may be looking to erase your drive before you upgrade or change devices.

To find out whether your device has a HDD or SSD, or at least to make sure, click on the Apple menu and select “About this Mac.” Once there, select the “Storage” tab to see which type of drive is in your system.

The first example, below, shows a SATA Disk (HDD) in the system.


In the next case, we see we have a solid state SATA Drive (SSD), plus a Mac SuperDrive.

Mac storage dialog showing SSD

The third screenshot shows an SSD as well. In this case it’s called “Flash Storage.”

Flash Storage

Make Sure You Have a Backup

Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that any important data on your hard drive has moved somewhere else. macOS’s built-in Time Machine backup software is a good start, especially when paired with Backblaze Computer Backup. You can learn more about using Time Machine in our Mac Backup Guide.

With a local backup copy in hand and secure cloud storage, you know your data is always safe no matter what happens. We call this the 3-2-1 backup strategy—it keeps your data safe while you erase your hard drive without losing any of it when you move to a new device. To learn more about this rule and other ways to keep your data safe, check out our guide on different backup strategies.

Once you’ve verified your data is backed up, roll up your sleeves and get to work. The key is macOS Recovery—a special part of the Mac operating system since OS 10.7 Lion.

How to Wipe a Mac Hard Disk Drive

Since November 2020, Apple debuted its first Macs equipped with M1 chips, notably in the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iMac, and iPad Pro models. This silicon chip benefits in performance from the previous Intel-based Mac, but it also means that the steps to erasing each drive differ slightly.

To check what kind of chip you have in your Mac, go to your Apple menu and select “About This Mac.” If your computer has an M1 chip, you will see the word “Chip” followed by the name of the chip, as in the image below.

If you have an Intel-based Mac, you will see “Processor,” instead, followed by the name of an Intel processor.

How to Wipe an Intel-based Mac

  1. Starting with your Mac turned off, press the power button, then immediately hold down the command and R keys and wait until the Apple logo appears.
  2. When the Recovery window appears, select Disk Utility.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Macintosh HD.
  4. Click the “Erase” button, then select a file system format and enter a name for it. Your options for a file system format include Apple File System (APFS), which is the file system used by macOS 10.13 or later; Mac OS Extended, which is the file system used by macOS 10.12 or earlier.
  5. Optionally and if it’s available, select “Security Options” and use the slider to choose how many times to write over the erased data, then click “OK.” (Secure erase options are available only for some types of storage devices. If the “Security Options” button is not available, Disk Utility cannot perform a secure erase on the storage device.
  6. Click “Erase,” then click “Done.”

There are four notches to that “Security Options” slider. “Fastest” is quick but insecure—data could potentially be rebuilt using a file recovery app. Moving that slider to the right introduces progressively more secure erasing. Disk Utility’s most secure level erases the information used to access the files on your disk, then writes zeros across the disk surface seven times to help remove any trace of what was there. This setting conforms to the DoD 5220.22-M specification. Bear in mind that the more secure method you select, the longer it will take. The most secure methods can add hours to the process.

How to Wipe a Mac With an M1 Chip

  1. Turn on your Mac and continue to press and hold the power button until the startup options window comes up. Click “Options,” then click “Continue.”
  2. When the Utilities window appears, select Disk Utility.
  3. In the sidebar, choose Macintosh HD.
  4. Click the “Erase” button, then select a file system format and enter a name for it. For Macs with an M1 chip, your option for a file system format is only APFS.
  5. Click “Erase Volume Group.”

NOTE: If you’re interested in wiping an SSD, see the section below.

Once it’s done, the Mac’s hard drive will be clean as a whistle and ready for its next adventure: a fresh installation of OS Big Sur, being donated to a relative or a local charity, or just sent to an e-waste facility. Of course, you can still drill a hole in your disk or smash it with a sledgehammer if it makes you happy, but now you know how to wipe the data from your old computer with much less ruckus.

The above instructions apply to older Macintoshes with HDDs. What do you do if you have an SSD?

Securely Erasing SSDs, and Why Not To

If your Mac comes equipped with an SSD, Apple’s Disk Utility software won’t actually let you zero the hard drive.

Wait, what?

In a tech note posted to Apple’s own online Knowledge Base, Apple explains that secure erase options are not available in Disk Utility for SSDs.

In fact, some folks will tell you not to zero out the data on an SSD, since it can cause wear and tear on the memory cells that, over time, can affect its reliability. This shouldn’t be nearly as big an issue as it used to be because SSD reliability and longevity has improved.

If “Standard Erase” doesn’t quite make you feel comfortable that your data can’t be recovered, there are a couple of options.

FileVault Keeps Your Data Safe

One way to make sure that your SSD’s data remains secure is to use FileVault (see “All About FileVault: Encryption for Your Mac”). FileVault is whole-disk encryption for the Mac. With FileVault engaged, you need a password to access the information on your hard drive. Without it, that data is encrypted.

There’s one potential downside of FileVault—if you lose your password or the encryption key, you’re screwed: You’re not getting your data back any time soon. Losing a FileVault key happens more frequently than it should.

When you first set up a new Mac, you’re given the option of turning FileVault on. If you don’t do it then, you can turn on FileVault at any time by clicking on your Mac’s System Preferences, clicking on “Security & Privacy,” and clicking on the FileVault tab. Be warned, however, that the initial encryption process can take hours, as will decryption if you ever need to turn FileVault off.

With FileVault turned on, you can restart your Mac into its Recovery System (by restarting the Mac while holding down the command and R keys) and erase the hard drive using Disk Utility, once you’ve unlocked it (by selecting the disk, clicking the File menu, and clicking “Unlock”). That deletes the FileVault key, which means any data on the drive is useless.

Nowadays, most Macs manage disk encryption through the T2 chip and its Secure Enclave which is entirely sandboxed from the main computer itself. This is why Filevault has no CPU overhead—it’s all handled by the T2 chip. Although FileVault doesn’t impact the performance of most modern Macs, I’d suggest only using it if your Mac has an SSD, not a conventional HDD.

Securely Erasing Free Space on Your SSD

If you don’t want to take Apple’s word for it, if you’re not using FileVault, or if you just want to, there is a way to securely erase free space on your SSD. It’s a little more involved but it works.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me state for the record that this really isn’t necessary to do, which is why Apple’s made it so hard to do. But if you’re set on it, you’ll need to use Apple’s Terminal app. Terminal provides you with command line interface access to the OS X operating system. Terminal lives in the Utilities folder, but you can access Terminal from the Mac’s Recovery System, as well. Once your Mac has booted into the Recovery partition, click the Utilities menu and select Terminal to launch it.

From a Terminal command line, type:

diskutil secureErase freespace VALUE /Volumes/DRIVE

That tells your Mac to securely erase the free space on your SSD. You’ll need to change VALUE to a number between 0 and 4. 0 is a single-pass run of zeroes, 1 is a single-pass run of random numbers, 2 is a 7-pass erase, 3 is a 35-pass erase, and 4 is a 3-pass erase. DRIVE should be changed to the name of your hard drive. To run a 7-pass erase of your SSD drive in “JohnB-Macbook,” you would enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 2 /Volumes/JohnB-Macbook

And remember, if you used a space in the name of your Mac’s hard drive, you need to insert a leading backslash before the space. For example, to run a 35-pass erase on a hard drive called “Macintosh HD” you enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 3 /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

Something to remember is that the more extensive the erase procedure, the longer it will take.

When Erasing Is Not Enough—How to Destroy a Drive

If you absolutely, positively, need to be sure that all the data on a drive is irretrievable, see this Scientific American article (with contributions by Gleb Budman, Backblaze CEO), “How to Destroy a Hard Drive—Permanently.”

•  •  •

Since you’re interested in SSDs, you might enjoy reading other posts in our SSD 101 series.

The post Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

A Quick Guide to iCloud and iTunes Backups for Your iPhone and iPad

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-backup-iphone-and-ipad/

This blog post was originally published in 2016. Since then, Apple has rolled out a number of updates to its products and how their data is backed up, so we’re sharing an update to this post with the latest information.

Apple recently released the newest edition of their iPhone, boasting a new storage capacity option of 1TB. That’s a big upgrade for anyone looking to get the latest version, and all that extra space is sure to be filled up quickly with app data, photos, videos, and more. You wouldn’t want to accidentally lose any of that important data, so it’s important to make sure you treat backups for your phone with as much consideration as you do for your computer. Not only that, but software upgrades can also have the potential to wreak data havoc, so keeping consistent data backups ensures all your iPhone data stays safe and secure in the cloud.

If you’re using iCloud Backup or iTunes to back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, read this post to understand how those backups work, and learn what else you can do to protect your data.

How to Back Up Your iPhone to iCloud

Apple has tried to make backing up less of a chore with iCloud Backup. This iOS feature lets your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch back up its contents to the cloud. If you’re looking for the most frictionless way to back up your devices, this is it. The nice thing about iCloud Backup is that you set it and forget it.

iCloud Backup happens automatically when your device is charging, locked, and is connected to Wi-Fi. Once you’ve configured your device for iCloud Backup, you should just be able to rely on the backups to happen periodically when you’re charging.

How to Use iCloud Backup on Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap your name at the top, then choose iCloud.
  3. Tap iCloud Backup.
  4. Tap Back Up Now. Stay connected to Wi-Fi until the process ends.

How to Check Your iCloud Backup

Make sure to stay connected to your Wi-Fi network until the backup is done. Here’s how to check your backup’s progress:

Using iOS 11 or later and iPadOS:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap your name at the top, then choose iCloud.
  3. Tap Manage Storage.
  4. Tap Backups.

Using iOS 10.3:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap your name at the top, then choose iCloud.
  3. Tap the graph that shows your iCloud usage, then tap Manage Storage.
  4. Select your device. iOS will show you details about when it was last backed up, and the backup file size.

How Does iCloud Backup Work?

iCloud Backup lets you restore your device from almost anywhere. It also makes upgrading a breeze. When you set up a new iOS device, for example, the system will ask you if you want to restore from an iCloud backup.

There is a downside to iCloud Backup that you need to be aware of. It’s very dependent on a specific set of actions to work:

  1. Your device needs to be connected to a power supply.
  2. Your device needs a Wi-Fi connection (and needs to be connected to the internet).
  3. Your device needs to be locked.
  4. You need to have enough space in iCloud to store the backup.

This last item is the killer. Apple only gives you 5GB of free space with the basic iCloud account. If you have a lot of stuff on your iOS device or in the cloud, it’s trivially easy to exceed your free 5GB iCloud allowance, which means your backups won’t happen unless you pay Apple for additional iCloud space.

If you have both an iPhone and an iPad? Forget about it. You have to pay Apple or you won’t have enough space to back up both. iCloud storage ranges from 99 cents per month for 50GB to $9.99 a month for 2TB.

There’s another caveat, too. iCloud Backup doesn’t back up everything on your phone. Things that aren’t backed up include:

  • Data that’s already in iCloud: Contacts, calendar appointments, notes, and photos, for example.
  • Data stored on other cloud services. For example, Gmail, or Microsoft Exchange mail.
  • Your Apple Pay info, and your Touch ID info (if your device is so equipped).
  • Imported media files, like e-books, music, and videos you’ve acquired from services besides Apple Music, like Amazon or any content downloaded to your phone from your browser or an app.
  • Any App Store content (that stuff is still available for re-download, it’s just an inconvenience to reload).
Looking for more information about how to download and back up the data that iCloud Backup doesn’t cover? We’ve gathered a handful of guides to help you protect your content across many different platforms—including social media, sync services, and more.

Most of this makes a lot of sense. Since data is already synced in iCloud and other cloud services, there’s no need to duplicate it in the backup. And as a matter of security, Apple Pay and Touch ID info shouldn’t be kept in a backup either—that info remains the sole domain of specialized hardware on compatible iOS devices called Secure Enclave.

As long as you understand the limits of iCloud Backup, it’s an enormously helpful tool that makes backup, recovery, and upgrading a lot easier.

There’s an alternative that doesn’t require you to buy any more space in iCloud and isn’t dependent on a network connection, either: backing up locally. To do that, you can use iTunes or Finder.

How to Back Up Your iPhone to a Computer

In 2019, Apple discontinued iTunes in its products, so it can no longer be used as a way to back up your phone on a Mac unless you’re running macOS Mojave or earlier. However, iTunes is still available for Windows PCs. The good news for Windows PC users is that you don’t need an internet connection, don’t have to pay for iCloud space, or any other shenanigans. All you’ll need is enough hard drive space to accommodate the backup.

To do this, you’ll have to physically connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac or PC using its USB sync cable. You can also configure iTunes to allow backups over Wi-Fi.

How to Back Up an iPhone to iTunes

Using a Windows PC:

  1. Connect your iOS device to the PC you normally sync with, and connect using a USB or USB-C cable or a Wi-Fi connection. You can learn how to turn on Wi-Fi syncing here.
  2. Double-click iTunes.
  3. You should see an icon for your device appear in the menu bar on the upper left side of the iTunes window. Click on it.
  4. Click Back Up Now to begin backing up your iOS device to your computer. If you want to include account passwords, Health and HomeKit data, you’ll need to make sure the checkbox entitled Encrypt iPhone backup is also checked.
  5. To see the backups stored on your computer, choose Edit, then Preferences, then click Devices. You will see encrypted backups shown with a lock icon in the list of backups.

Using MacOS Mojave or earlier:

  1. Open iTunes and connect your device to your computer with a USB cable.
  2. If you are asked for your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  3. Select your device on your computer.
  4. Click Back Up Now.
  5. When the process ends, you’ll see that the backup finished successfully because you’ll be shown the date and time of your last backup.

As with iCloud backup, there are a few limitations you should be aware of with iTunes backup. Some information isn’t backed up, by design:

  • Content from iTunes and App Stores, or PDF files downloaded to iBooks.
  • Imported music synced from iTunes on the computer, videos, books, and photos.
  • Photos already stored in the cloud via iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream.
  • Touch ID and Apple Pay settings.
  • Activity, Health, and Keychain data (passwords), unless you select “Encrypt iPhone backup.”

Again, most of these limitations make sense—you can re-sync the content you need and some stuff needs to be excluded as a matter of security.

Once you’re done, iTunes maintains a copy of that backup, which you can restore if you ever need to. You can read about how to restore from a backup in the section below.

The added benefit from connecting your iPhone or iPad to your Mac or PC using iTunes is that when you back up that Mac or PC, you will also back up the contents from your iPhone or iPad.

How to Back Up an iPhone to a Mac

  1. Using macOS Catalina or later, open a Finder window and connect your device to your computer with a USB cable.
  2. If you’re asked for your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  3. Select your device on your computer.
  4. If you’d like to back up the Health and Activity data from your device or Apple Watch, you need to encrypt your backup by selecting the “Encrypt local backup” checkbox, which will require you to create a password.
  5. Select Back Up Now.
  6. When the process ends, you’ll see that the backup finished successfully because you’ll be shown the date and time of your last backup.

How to Back Up iPhone Contacts

To create a backup of your iPhone Contacts, your device needs to be connected to Wi-Fi.

  1. First, go to Settings.
  2. Tap your name at the top, then tap iCloud.
  3. Tap the slider for Contacts to switch it on.
  4. If prompted, merge your contacts with iCloud.
  5. Tap the iCloud Backup app at the bottom of the list and switch it on.
  6. Tap Back Up Now.

What About iOS Backup Apps?

Instead of using iCloud or iTunes, you can use backup apps to back up the data on your iOS device. These types of apps can be helpful, but are usually limited to backing up your photos and your contact list. Other information, such as application data, game data, texts, voicemails, etc., is not typically backed up by these apps. The most comprehensive way to back up and restore the data on your iPhone is to use either iCloud or iTunes, or both.

The 3-2-1 Backup Strategy

Ideally, you should use both iCloud backups and periodic computer backups to make sure you have at least two ways to restore your iPhone or your iPad if you need to. And if you’re a Backblaze Computer Backup user, all the better. Backblaze backs up the contents of the system directory where your backups are kept, so if you’re using iTunes or Finder and Backblaze, you can be sure your iPhone data is safe.

Here’s the bottom line when it comes to your mobile device’s data: You don’t want to take any chances. Make sure to have at least two backups: One local, through iTunes or Finder, and one in the cloud—either with iCloud Backup or using Backblaze.

The combination of iCloud backups, iTunes or Finder backups, and Backblaze provides you with a foolproof way to keep your mobile data safe and sound. For more on how to keep your data safe, read about the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which we think is the best way to make sure your data is safe.

How to Restore Your iPhone From a Backup

In case of data loss, or if you’d like to have the data you backed up from an old iPhone on a new one, you can restore your data backup to your device. Depending on the method you used to back up your device data, there are a few different options for restoring from a PC or Mac running macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier, a backup from a Mac running macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, or an iCloud backup.

How to Restore Data From a PC or Mac With macOS Mojave 10.14 or Earlier

  1. Open iTunes and connect your device to your computer with a USB cable.
  2. If you’re asked for your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  3. You should see an icon for your device appear in the menu bar on the upper left side of the iTunes window. Click on it.
  4. Click on Summary, then click on Restore Backup.
  5. Look at the date of each backup and pick the one you want to restore from.
  6. Select Restore and wait for the restore time to finish. If prompted, enter the password for your encrypted backup.
  7. Keep your device connected until after it restarts and syncs with your computer. Once the sync is done, you can disconnect your device.

To restore data from a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, follow the same steps above in Finder.

How to Restore Data From an iCloud Backup

To restore from an iCloud backup, you need to erase all of its content if you have already set up the device, or start from a new device before you can use these steps.

  1. First, switch on your device.
  2. Follow the setup steps until you get to the Apps & Data screen, then choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
  3. Sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID.
  4. Select a backup. Once you choose a backup, the data transfer starts.
  5. Once prompted, sign in with your Apple ID to restore your apps and purchases. You won’t be able to use your apps until you sign in.
  6. Keep your device connected to your Wi-Fi network and wait for a progress bar to appear and complete the data transfer. Depending on how much data you have to back up as well as your network speed, it might take a few minutes to an hour to complete. If you disconnect from your Wi-Fi network before it finishes, the data transfer will pause until you reconnect.

Keep Your iPhone Data Safe in the Cloud

Hopefully this has helped demystify what iCloud Backup and iTunes are doing to keep your mobile data safe, and what else you can do to make sure you’re protected. Still confused? Have a question? Or, do you use a different strategy that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.

The post A Quick Guide to iCloud and iTunes Backups for Your iPhone and iPad appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.