The Importance of Backing Up

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I’m going to get preachy.  Y’all need to back your stuff up.  Now.

There’s probably no tragedy worse than losing your personal information when your computer takes a dive.  Yes, hard drives can be replaced on the cheap, as can whole computers (relatively speaking), but what will you do when your tax records vanish?  Or your home videos?  Or your picture albums?  There are some things money won’t replace, and living under the delusion that data loss only happens to other people is about as stupid as stupid gets.

The cold, hard truth is that you will loose something digital at some point in your life, if you haven’t already.  I know, I know, that old chugger you’ve had since the early days of Windows XP is still going, and it seems like it’ll never stop, but don’t trust it.  Hard drives die.  All of them.

Here’s an adage you  need to memorize: if it only exists in one place, it doesn’t exist.  (I borrowed this from Alex Lindsay of the Pixel Corps.)


Here’s what your data should look like:

1. Primary: the stuff that’s on your computer — that will inevitably die some day, somehow.

2. Local backup: the stuff you regularly back up in your home or office (external hard drive(s), optical discs, etc.).

3. Off-site backup: the most important stuff in your life (pictures, writings, home videos, etc.) that you absolutely can’t afford to loose.  This can be online (i.e. something like Carbonite or Dropbox), or your grandmother’s place — as long as it’s a ways away from yours.

Why off-site?  Because fires happen.  Because theft happens.  Because bad stuff isn’t always confined to that little bitty space inside your computer where the hard drive lives.  Concerned that others will see your stuff if you send it elsewhere?  Encrypt it.  It’s easy, and it’s free (TrueCrypt for example).  Just don’t forget the password.

Back up, and back up often.  If need be, buy automated software.  I use Time Machine (bundled with all new Macs) to do this for me, but you can get all hardcore and do it manually.  Whatever works for you.  But anything is ideal if it has the power to get you back to where you were before doom struck.

I’ll have a write-up detailing my backup strategies in the near future.


Written by Michael

23 January 2010 at 11:46 pm

Posted in Musings, Technology

Tagged with , ,

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