I’ve written a lot about backing up your data over the years. But even though backups are important, somehow they’re always 2nd or 3rd on the priority list. ‘Something to do when I get time’. And as Spring approaches, time is one thing that there’s going to be less of as priorities shift from inside activities to outside — yard cleanup, rediscovering local parks with the dogs, etc.
But back to backups. The key to keeping your data safely backed up is to make your data backup process so simple you can forget about it, until you need it, of course.
In the past I’ve written about online backup as a solution, but recently I’ve started to use that as a secondary backup system. My primary backup system is currently local hardware based, works flawlessly so far, and is simple.
In my case, it starts with the hardware. These days, USB drives are quite inexpensive for their size, so I have three (500GB) units that I cycle through my backup routine. Each drive is naked — no fancy case — I use a Thermaltake BlacX docking station to handle the SATA to USB connection, which then lets me connect it to my computer. The drive simply rest in the unit and is then recognized by your computer as a USB storage device.
Which would be enough if I was to manually drag and drop my files to the drive each time I wanted to back up, but remember, I wanted it to be über easy. Which brings me to the next piece of hardware; the Clickfree Transformer SE USB interface.
This little hardware device sits between your USB drive (or dock, in my case) and one of your computer’s USB ports. Once it’s plugged in and mounted by your system, it asks to install the Clickfree backup software, and then launches a backup session (which you can abort and configure) automagically. Remember I said I like simple and reliable.
So, now that I’m set up hardware wise, how does my backup routine work, you may ask. It works like this:
- Configure, or reconfigure the Clickfree backup software to include new drives or folders (both on system and mapped to my system but mounted on my network)
- Verify or reset the backup time and frequency if needed
- Ensure one of my 3 SATA drives are mounted in the drive dock
- Carry on about my regular work — the backup will launch at the predetermined time and execute in background
- Now it gets a bit tricky with 3 backup drives, but here’s how I do it:
- When complete, remove the SATA drive ( I’ll call it Drive A) and take it to a safe offsite storage location.
- Pickup the drive (Drive B) currently at the offsite storage and bring it back to be used later.
- Insert the third drive (Drive C) that I had on site, but not in use into the SATA drive dock. It’s now ready to be the backup drive at the next backup session.
That’s probably the most complex part of this process. I like to keep two drives on site and one drive offsite. The most recent backup is always offsite and safe. The next-to-most-recent backup is onsite and available if I need to recover a file or two I know have not changed since my last backup. And the oldest backup drive is ready to be used for the next backup session.
And that’s all there is to it. The Clickfree backup process doesn’t encrypt or compress the data, so should you need to recover a file or drive, it’s a very simple matter to get at the files.
Now here’s the cool part — your backup process can get back on track thanks to the fine folks at Clickfree; they’ve given me a few of the Clickfree Transformer SE units to use as prizes in a contest.
If you want to get your backup process setup before Spring has sprung (and soaked up all your free time), either enter the contest (tell me your data backup horror story), or you can simply order a Transformer SE direct from Clickfree — and yes, I have a discount code so you can even get a deal on part of your backup hardware. Use Grier10 when checking out to get a 15% discount on your order.
So what are you waiting for…Spring is on its way and you know it will eat up all your free time. Save your data now, whatever backup system you use.