Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I hear about the catastrophes of lost data/toasted hard drives/stolen machines daily. It’s part and parcel of working with computers for a living. However, what never fails to surprise me is how many people don’t have backups of their data.
Until recently, I used a backup package I had purchased to keep the same format as the old Microsoft backup utility – the qic file. Unfortunately, the program recently started throwing errors on one of the home machines, and I decided I would redo the backups for our home.
Why You Should Have Good Backups
Hard drives fail. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And without backups, you will probably lose many things you spent time and effort on.
Why You Should Have A Simple Backup
The simpler something is, and the more automated, the more likely you are likely to use it. By changing my backup procedures, I made it easier to restore files, save files off-site, schedule backups, and know if they failed. The complete transformation on the backups took about 2 hours, and that included running the initial backups.
What We Had
With one laptop and one desktop computer networked at home, I had easy access to the files on both. Attached to the laptop (my machine) was a 100GB external hard drive which contained, among other things, two ghost images of my machine plus all our MP3 files.
Our backup went like this, every Monday night:
Every Monday morning I would burn the Laptop and Desktop qic files from the desktop to a CD. The first Tuesday of the month the files would be burned to another CD and stored offsite.
It was clunky, but it worked.
With the backup software throwing error messages all over the place, I decided to upgrade the backup system. First was to purchase a 1TB external hard drive for the laptop, and move the 100GB to the desktop.
Next, using the free version of SyncBack Freeware v3.2.9, I set up backup jobs:
- Automatic off-site backup. The files get FTPed automatically. It doesn’t matter if I miss burning to CD.
- Emails on failure. I receive an email if anything fails in the backup. I had to ascertain this manually before.
- Easier verification. Since the new backup is a straight file copy, or a zipped version, it is really easy to tell if the file is OK.
- Easier restore. Drag the file to replace it. Much simpler than mounting media, searching catalogs and such.
- Redundancy. The repository used to be the PC hard drive. Now we have two external drives plus the FTP copy.
The main advantage is that the files go offsite without any interference from me. I also receive an email if the backup jobs fail, which I had to ascertain manually before.
The main article I used to inspire this setup came from Lifehacker. See Geek to Live: Automatically back up your hard drive.
Where I Need to Go
I’m still uneasy about not having an offsite backup of the pictures and scrapping files. I plan on looking into Mozy or another offsite backup to handle this information.
It really isn’t difficult to implement a backup system. With an investment of under $100, I was able to create a backup system with redundancy for the critical files and automatic offsite storage.
Photo by half empty