Online backups are like insurance
"...Don’t trust Apple “with any of your data” isn’t just wrong because it’s a hyperbolic overreaction, it’s wrong because it’s potentially dangerous. What has been mostly overlooked in the reaction to this photo leak scandal, and completely lost in Auerbach’s argument, is that backups are a form of security — in the same sense that life insurance is a form of security for your children and spouse.
Over the years I’ve received numerous emails from past and former Genius Bar support staff, telling similar stories of heartbreak. Customer comes in, their iPhone completely broken, or lost, or stolen, and they had precious photos and videos on it. The birth of a child. The last vacation they ever took with a beloved spouse who has since passed away. Did they ever back up their iPhone to a Mac or PC with iTunes? No. In many cases they don’t even know what “iTunes on a PC” even means. Or maybe they connected the iPhone to iTunes once, the day they bought it and needed to activate it, and then never again.
This happened to thousands of people. It’s why Apple made cloud-based backups one of the fundamental pillars of iCloud. It still happens, today, to people who haven’t signed up for iCloud and enabled iCloud backups. It’s heartbreaking in most cases, and downright devastating in some. I’ve heard from Genius Bar staffers who eventually left the job because of the stress of dealing with customers suffering data loss. Once it is determined that the photos and videos are irretrievable from the device and have never been backed up, the job of the Genius staffer turns from technician to grief counselor. Bereavement is not too strong a word."
Excellent piece on John Gruber's site with a very rational reason about why not to panic about the celebrity photos this week that made news headlines. If you turned off iCloud backup (or whatever system your smartphone uses) when you were first setting it up, I'd seriously consider turning it back on.
On a similar vein, do yo have backups of your computer files? Again, a hard drive is ridiculously cheap these days, and all computers (Windows or Mac) support easy automatic back-ups. But I'd also be taking on an online backup service such as Mozy*, Backblaze, Carbonite, etc (or at the very least, hooking up a pile of your most important documents to Google Drive or Dropbox) - again, think of it like insurance if your house is burgled, or burnt down, etc.
[Update 6th Sept 2014]
*I've been a user of Mozy since 2007 when it was in start-up phase and one of the smartest things i've paid for, especially as I travel with my laptop so much. Now, they're owned by EMC, a huge company so has the financial backing to sustain it.