“I don’t need backups. I’ve got my files synced.”
I have written many times about the need for genealogists and most everyone else to make frequent backups I won’t repeat all that here. You can find my past articles by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+backups&t=hu&ia=web.
However, I have to ask one question: Do you have backups or are you simply syncing your files?
In fact, there is a huge difference.
Many online services provide file synching services, including Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and several dozen others. A sync service allows you to keep consistent contents between multiple devices, such as between your desktop computer and a laptop or perhaps your home computer and the one at the office. Make one change to the contents of that shared info, and the same thing is copied to all other devices, including file changes and deletions.
That’s a good thing, but it is not a backup.
Depending on how you have syncing and sharing set-up you can delete a file on one device and have it disappear on all the other shared devices.
A true backup product keeps ALL VERSIONS of ALL FILES for a specified period of time. Backups may be saved on an external hard drive, in a flash drive, or in an online service in the cloud. But if you are only saving the latest version of your files, you are not making backups. You are file synching.
What do you do if you need a copy of a file as it existed last week? or last month? Can you retrieve the old version today?
Perhaps you updated a file with new information and accidentally deleted something important that was within the file. What do you do? A true backup service will save you. Simply launch the backup software, click on RESTORE, then select the file name and the date of the file version that you seek.
There are dozens of good backup products available. If you own a Macintosh, look at Time Machine that was already installed on your computer when you purchased it. Time Machine is one of the best backup products I have seen. See https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250 for more information about using Time Machine.
Users of Microsoft Windows have a bit more of a challenge. Over the years, Microsoft has included mediocre backup software in some of the Pro versions of Windows but generally not in the Home Editions. However, a number of third-party vendors have rushed in to fill the vacuum.
Backblaze‘s online backup service keeps track of multiple versions up to 30 days. That is a rather short timeframe but is better than most file sync services.
Dropbox is primarily a file sync service but also will create backups of multiple versions of every file. By default, Dropbox saves a history of all deleted and earlier versions of files for 30 days for all Dropbox accounts. If you purchase the Extended Version History add-on feature, you can revert to a previous file version or recover a deleted file at any time within a year of an edit or deletion made after your purchase.
All files stored online by Dropbox are encrypted and are kept in secure storage servers across several data centers.
Other backup services and file sync services may have similar capabilities. The only way to find out is to read the fine print on each company’s web site.