Digital Nesting – Where the primal me meets the 21st century and how my instincts may save your shoes

Nesting instinct refers to an urge in pregnant animals to prepare a home for the upcoming newborn(s). It is found in a variety of animals (both mammals and birds) including humans.

My form of ‘nesting’, somewhat to Noam’s disappointment, is not of the kind that upgrades the house, but only of the digital kind. So this is where my madness over the last weeks for getting all our digital life in order, may someday save you. I have researched and compared and this is what I picked to automate the backing up of my life.

Some of you have experienced the manifestations of this madness in the form of nostalgic photos sent by email and asked me to share how I dug those up. Here goes, with the following disclaimer:

  • I use Mac OS but you can find Windows alternatives to any software here that’s Mac only
  • I use Gmail (Google Apps for biz rather then a desktop email client) but you can find a software to do the same for your email client
  • There are many good alternatives to all the recommended software below. I chose these cause they handle big data well and affordably
  • If any of this is Geek to you, do as my mom does and pretend it’s not there
  • If you try any of these and something goes bad, you did it wrong

Local backup
This provides disaster recovery from hard drives connected to my computer

  • Time Machine – a Mac application that allows you to roll back your computer to any past day in case you installed something that fucked up your system or if you lost data because you deleted it by mistake.
  • Crash Plan – backs up on a separate hard drive a mirror of all your current folders and files.

Cloud backup
I have ‘respect-suspect’ relationship with the cloud. It provides a recovery solution in case all your local backups fail (Iran, fire, etc…) or if you urgently need a file/folder when you’re away from your system. This is not a DropBox alternative. Recovery isn’t that straight forward so it’s not for the stuff you can expect to need away from your computer (which is what DropBox is for) but for emergencies.

  • Crash Plan – is the most affordable I found for people who have a lot of data, rich media, and they want to backup it all.

The only files I don’t upload to the cloud are sex tapes and naked photos. What about other private files? I upload those but…

Private files

  • KeePassX – free software that saves all my passwords in a system that’s easy to sort and search and puts it under strong encryption. This I take on a disk-on-key when ever I travel.
  • TrueCrypt – free software that hides my private folder within one encrypted file that can be extracted on any drive only with my super secret password: maya1978

Emails, contacts, calendar

  • Backupify – a Google Marketplace application that backs up all my Gmail (or Google Apps) stuff to the cloud and allows the download of a local copy. If anything ever happens to Gmail, you still have all your stuff.


  • Backupify – creates a backup of all my FB activity as well as FB photos to the cloud and allows to download a local copy. If anything ever happens to FB, you still have all your stuff. Works for Twitter and other social sites too.

Photos sent/received via email

  • Lost Photos – is an application that goes over your emails and collectes to one folder on your hard drive all the photos ever emailed to you or that you emailed other people. I found too many cute dogs and cats and some serious gems too.

Notes, thoughts, ideas

  • Switched from Backpack to Evernote (using Everport)
  • In a addition to the best mind mapping tool out there: TheBrain.

When people are asked what they would take if their house was burning down they usually say: the kids, the pets, the albums. Today, this translates to: kids, pets, laptop. Wrong answer. The right one is kids, pets, shoes.

Good nesting.