Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We are all nano meters from disaster.

Your hard disk has a little needle like head that floats on a cushion of air created by the spinning hard drive. The distance is measured in nano meters which are really really small. Now for a moment think about all the stuff on that disk. How much is it worth to you? How much did you pay for the data on your hard drive? Even if you don't have things on there that you had to fork over money for, there are things on there that took your time to create, organize, or set up. On my computer I have all my income tax records, bank records, music, home movies, family photographs, owners manuals to appliances, medical records, and other things. That is why I am a bit of a fanatic about backups.

There are all kinds of reasons why hard drives fail, and they do fail all the time. If you haven't yet experienced this then you are really living dangerously if you don't have a backup. I have had 3 hard drives fail, but I was able to recognize they were going bad and replace them before they died. 10 years ago you would have to buy a tape drive and they didn't hold much data and it would take all night to back them up. Now there are all kinds of great USB hard drives available. They hold tons of data and write very fast.

Here is what I do:

Every day or so I plug an external hard drive into my laptop and software automatically does an incremental backup, which copies all files that have been modified since the last backup. The software keeps as many incremental backups as it can and deletes the oldest ones as needed for the new ones. The drive I use is a 500 gigabyte western digital passport. They cost about $120 at Costco. The drive is always plugged in and always on, mostly for my own convenience. It does go into sleep mode when not in use though. This protects me from a hard drive failure on my laptop, and possibly theft because a thief probably won't take the time to untangle all the wires for it so it can be pulled out. It probably won't help in the event of a fire, lightning strike or other disaster, but the most common thing is for a drive to fail.

Since I have a laptop it is easy to take it to work where I have another USB hard drive that I copy the entire hard drive to about once a week. It stays in my drawer at work so I always have an offsite backup. This protects me from pretty much everything, including a lighting strike or fire, but I will most likely lose some data. At least a majority of it will be protected and it is easiest to reproduce the most recent things.

What is your strategy?


Teresa said...

Yeah, Christian backups all our stuff regularly to an external hard drive also but I like your idea of a second backup not in the house. That's smart.

rosanne said...

I am at the mercy of fate...which usually catches up to me sooner or later. I'm a terrible wife...I tell Clay to back up our computer, so when it does crash I get to blame him for the disaster!