Trust no one when it comes to your data, not even Apple

If you're depending only on Time Machine to back up your Mac's hard drive, you've failed. If you're depending on iCloud alone to back up the data on your iPhone, your photos, and other important information, you've failed. And if you're depending on iCloud Photo Library or iCloud Music Library to keep your pictures, videos, and music safe, you've failed.

My pal Jim Dalrymple feels badly burned by Apple Music this week. He recently posted about his experience at The Loop and says:

Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I'm missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don't care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

Jim took responsibility for not backing up his music library in the very next paragraph, and he's absolutely right: It's his fault he doesn't have those music files anymore. It's not Apple's.

In the end, make no mistake: Backing up your data is your job.

Should what happened to Jim have happened at all? Absolutely not. Entering and exiting the Apple Music ecosystem needs to be a seamless, flawless process. If Apple's screwed that up, they've absolutely failed.

For my part, I haven't bothered to turn off Apple Music yet to see if or how it screws up my music library, which like Jim's includes thousands of songs I've collected over decades of ripping music to CD. Unlike Jim, I still have almost all my CDs (minus the ones that have gotten accidentally broken). Also unlike Jim, I backed my shit up, so I give precisely zero damns about what happens with Apple Music

I've gotten burned by lack of backups before. I've lost years of archived email and documents simply because I didn't back up my Mac. Last year I uploaded my entire iTunes music library to iTunes Match to save local hard drive space because my Retina MacBook Pro's SSD isn't big enough for everything. It worked, for a while. Then as I was doing what I thought was some careful culling of music I no longer listened to, I accidentally deleted half the library in the cloud.

It would have been tragic, if an older copy of that music library hadn't been cloned to another Mac on my home network. That and Crashplan, a third-party service that backs up my Macs to their own cloud service, helped me rebuild my iTunes music library.

Customers come in my store every day with broken computers and iOS devices that contain, in some cases, years of precious photos of children's birthday parties, anniversary dinners, in some cases images and video of dear friends and relatives who have passed away. Sometimes heroic measures are able to recover the data on these devices, but ultimately it's a crap shoot.

Don't leave your information to fate. If you're not backing up your data, you're screwed. If you're only backing up your data to one source, you're not backing it up at all.

Learn from our mistakes: Don't rely on Apple. Don't rely on anyone. Back up your data now.

Peter Cohen