On a very regular basis, I deal with dead or dying harddrives, USB devices, and other forms of storage media. Many times I am helping rescue or repair a drive that has been used for backing-up another drive.
In most cases, the majority of unique or essential items are only a small percentage of the total number of items on the drive. I always find copies and copies of photos, music, movies, documents, etc. The organization of the backups seems to be very random, undated, and definitely not pruned.
I could rant about using software like Timemachine or Carbon Copy Cloner to create smart backups. I could explain that legally purchased media is usually retrievable from the source of purchase if you lose it. I could review the steps to create offline backups (DVDs, CDs, etc) that contain critical data needed for accessing things like online banking and legal documents. However, no one will listen. People do not listen because it is too convenient just to connect a drive, and drag-and-drop everything onto it.
If photos, documents, media, and whatever else you might own are critical, then steps need to be taken to show some care and consideration for maintaining these items. In my opinion, the best way to do this is to stop managing a pit and start investing in a storage container.
Normal harddrives fail. SSD drives can be corrupted. Small USB drives can have a simple electrical problem that renders them useless. Therefore the best investment, is to invest in the cloud instead of a device, or set of devices, that are going to fail.
If you choose a service like Google Drive, you will pay $50.00 USD a year for 200 gigs of storage. Now this storage is only used when you upload things. It is not impacted when you create something within Google Drive. 200 gigs is 1000s of photos, documents, music, and those annoying cell-phone camera movies no one wants to watch more than once. Google Drive works on every operating system, iOS, and Android.
Services like Google Drive are live and on-demand. This means the files are not compressed and you can access them immediately. If you want to be more frugal you can go with a backup service that compresses your data. Services like Carbonite are usually $50-$75 USD a year and have unlimited storage. The downside is the data will be slower to access and restore, but the price is great.
Remember you always pay more for speed and/or convenience.
Both types of cloud-based backups do their jobs in the background. They sync new files, and update only things that have been changed. This means if you have to restore your files, you will only have the most current versions.
In fact, when you begin to use cloud-based storage, the first thing you have to do is critically look at your data and decide what is important. Most people realize that they have more junk than gold. They look in the mirror and say, “I am a virtual hoarder, and I need to stop!”. Overall using the cloud for storage is more efficient and safer than trying to carrying around some external backup that is…
…BORN TO FAIL.