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Back up your computer while you're self-quarantining

Tech Talk

Are you stuck at home? Now is the perfect time to revisit your data back-up strategy or, you know, to create a data back-up strategy in the first place.

One back-up is better than nothing, but to keep your data safe, follow a 3-2-1 back-up plan. The old school style 3-2-1 back-up meant you'd keep three copies of your data in two different formats and one copy offsite.

Here's how an old-school 3-2-1 might look. Buy an external hard drive and run the built-in back-up software on your computer and will give you two copies of your data. Make another copy of your data onto a zillion USB drives, and that's three copies in two different formats. If you take the zillion USB drives up to your cabin at Mammoth, that's one copy offsite.

In these modern days, with all these flying cars, bases on the moon and the interwebs, we can cheat a bit on that 3-2-1 strategy and keep our data safe.

Go ahead and get that external HDD (Western Digital and Seagate are good ones) and run your computer's built-in back-up program. Then skip the USB drives and check out some cloud storage.

Google (Google Drive), Microsoft (One Drive), Apple (iCloud) and Dropbox all have online storage plans for free or at least not very much per month. If your back up needs are modest, say around 5GB, then one of these may work for you. Online storage fits into the 3-2-1 back-up strategy by keeping another copy of your data in a different format AND in a different place. And as a bonus, any of these plans will also work across different devices.

If you've got more data than 5GB to back up, and a fast internet connection, look into Carbonite or Backblaze. These services back up an unlimited amount of data in real-time for less than $10 a month.

Need something new to watch?

All this stay-at-homing and social distancing has us putting in quite a bit of quality time streaming video on our TVs, computers or phones. According to Nielsen (I guess they don't only count how many people are watching broadcast TV these days), we streamed 85 percent more minutes of video in March 2020 than in March 2019. Binge-watching - or watching three or more episodes of a show at one viewing - has climbed 25 percent over the same period. In billions of minutes of streaming (yes, billions) during the last week of March, Netflix was in first place with 29 percent, YouTube was second at 20 percent, Hulu third at 10 percent and Amazon Prime Video at 9 percent.

The bad news is you may be running out of things to watch. The good news is just about every streaming service is offering free trials of their services. Reminder: free trials require a credit card to get going, so you need to remember to cancel the service before the free trial runs out. Or, you know, keep the service if you like it and can afford it.

30-day free trials

Netflix, Showtime, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Shudder (coupon code SHUTIN), Acorn TV (coupon code FREE30), CBS All Access (coupon code GIFT).

7-day free trials

HBO, Apple TV+, Broadway HD, Disney+.

These promotions change all the time, but maybe, in this case, the free periods will get longer instead of shorter, eh? #StayAtHome.


While your kids or significant other are digging through menus looking for something new to stream, have yourself some fun. Download the Google Arts & Culture app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Click on the installed app to launch it, then click the camera icon at the bottom, and choose Art Transfer. Pick a photo from your gallery and transform it into a masterpiece in the style of Van Gogh, DaVinci, Kahlo, Munch, Warhol and others. Click the camera icon again to get out of your modified picture.

Not really me. Okay, maybe.

A 90-minute movie is too much of a time commitment. Instead, I'll take a 22-minute sitcom and watch 17 episodes of it. In a row. Like a boss.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at [email protected].