Have you backed up your data today?


Today is World Backup Day, I’m told, but to be frank, every day you should be think­ing about the safety of your data, there’s just too much of it that’s irre­place­able.

So, today, I’m going to take a quick look at some of the backup sys­tems I use and have in place. Yes, I said sys­tems. No one backup sys­tem is infal­lible, so redund­ancy is import­ant.

And, of course, this is my think­ing on the sub­ject. You may have dif­fer­ing opin­ions, which is great, as long as you are back­ing up :smileyhappy:
The What
But before I get into the hard­ware and soft­ware, lets talk a bit about the data itself, by break­ing it down into three cat­egor­ies:

I rarely backup applic­a­tions I’ve bought. The reas­on is pretty simple, I (likely) already have a phys­ic­al backup in the form of the disc the applic­a­tion was delivered on.

The excep­tion to this is when I buy soft­ware and it’s delivered online. If I’m buy­ing through a large soft­ware mer­chant (Apple’s app store, Steam’s con­tent deliv­ery net­work, etc) then my pur­chases are all tracked and recor­ded so a backup isn’t really needed.

Now if I were buy­ing soft­ware dir­ectly from a smal­ler developer, say a ded­ic­ated Geocach­ing applic­a­tion for Win­dows, then I’d keep a copy of my down­loads in a dir­ect­ory that is included in my reg­u­lar backup routine.

I Don’t Care If It’s Lost
This is a big grey area for me, as I’m a bit of a pack-rat, both digit­ally and in real life (just ask my wife!).

Things in this cat­egory include docs I’ve down­loaded and read (and not yet deleted), short­cuts and book­marks that I leave on my com­puter­’s desktop, or applic­a­tion dir­ect­or­ies that don’t con­tain import­ant data (say a Pho­toshop app dir­ect­ory, but not my work­ing image dir­ect­or­ies).

Really Import­ant Stuff
Any of my work­ing doc­u­ments. All per­son­al pho­tos and videos, pur­chased music & videos (iTunes Lib­rary), eBooks, etc. Yes, I could re-down­load them, but stor­age is cheap these days so back­ing them up is a no-brain­er.

The How
As I men­tioned above, I use a multi-layered approach to back­ing up my data.

Home Serv­er
First, I use a cent­ral Net­work Attached Stor­age (NAS) device to host all my data. In my case, I’ve got two drives in the device, and have it set up so that the con­tent of one drive is ‘mirrored’ to anoth­er — so if one drive fails, the oth­er will have a safe copy of my data.

I’m cur­rently test­ing a new Drobo FS device that is a very smart NAS that man­ages data bet­ter than my cur­rent Mirrored approach — watch for an upcom­ing review on that, but so far, I’m very pleased with it.

Off­s­ite Backup
Now, all that data I store (and mir­ror) on my serv­er is no good if it’s lost in a fire, so at a reg­u­lar inter­val, I copy all that data to anoth­er hard drive and store that hard drive some­where off­s­ite.

I use a com­bin­a­tion of a BlacX USB SATA drive inter­face, (basic­ally a smart USB drive hol­ster that sup­ports stand­ard intern­al HDs) and the Click­Free Trans­former to man­age the backup pro­cess.

In my case, the Trans­former backs up my data every day or two, and I swap the backup HDs every week, so my off­s­ite backup is only, at most, a week out of date.

Online Backup
Depend­ing on the type and num­ber of data you’d like to backup, online backup may be an option.

In my case, I don’t do a com­plete backup to the cloud, but do store some import­ant or cur­rent-work­ing docs there.

The big bene­fit to online backup is that it’s avail­able to you any­time, any­where there’s an inter­net con­nec­tion. The draw­backs, as I see it, are the time it takes to com­plete a backup, and the fact that you *do* need an inter­net con­nec­tion to access the data.

Whatever you do, Backup!
Ok, you’ve seen my sys­tem. It’s likely overkill for many of you, but with­in that sys­tem are some solu­tions that will work for even a simple one-com­puter home.

But the big takeaway you should have from this post is that if you have data, music, pho­tos, videos, stored on your com­puter, you really need a safe and secure way to back it up. Hard drives are cheap these days — those wed­ding, or new baby/puppy pho­tos are irre­place­able, and price­less.
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Published by Brad Grier

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