Monthly Backups: Have you started yours?

Before I start, a friendly reminder that you only have 2.5 days left to enter the contest for a free Clickfree Transformer backup system. Tell me a backup horror story.

One thing I like to do is, at the end of every month, verify that I’ve got a full backup of what I like to call my ‘forgotten data’, the data on my desktop or laptop —  data stored on the machines I work on day-to-day.

Once you set up a process to back up your servers or NAS devices, it’s easy to get complacent and forget that some of the things that could be important to you are actually stored on your local computer not on the network; things like game progress saves, edits to photos, videos or podcasts you’ve downloaded..etc.

So near the end of each month, I look at that stuff, determine if it’s really important to me or not, then copy it to a place on my network that will be backed up (using one of my other backup systems).

How ’bout you? Are you regularly backing up this ‘forgotten data’?

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz. I wonder where that data is?

In Edmonton the last week or so has been unseasonably warm. A friend of mine today declared on Twitter that he went to work pants-less (one assumes he wore shorts). I’m starting to waiting for the rest of the snow to leave the back yard, and my dogs are getting restless. Which means that when spring finally does get here, any time I have for inside technology-related tasks has just, like the snow, evaporated. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


Spring’s on its way. Backup now — before you’re too busy.

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.

The Hardware
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 uber 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.

The Process
So, now that I’m set up hardware wise, how does my backup routine work, you may ask. It works like this:

  1. 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)
  2. Verify or reset the backup time and frequency if needed
  3. Ensure one of my 3 SATA drives are mounted in the drive dock
  4. Carry on about my regular work – the backup will launch at the predetermined time and execute in background
  5. 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.

Want one?
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.

Write a comment, win a prize!

I’ve been a fan of Clickfree backup systems for a while now. Dropdead simple and effective for most home usage. Well now the kind folks at Clickfree have given me the opportunity to share the love, so to speak, in the form of a contest, my first, in fact.

All the gory details are here, but the contest is really simple:

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup hor­ror story and write-up a com­ment on the contest page that describes a data loss hor­ror story that was aver­ted or would have been pre­ven­ted if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

But wait, there’s more!

Of course there is. If you’re not the writin’ type, you can still win —
Clickfree has created a special code to get a 15% discount off your order through them. Simply enter Grier10 at the checkout and you’ll have 15% removed from the total.

Remember, don’t comment below if you want the comment to be considered an Entry — leave your comment HERE.

Again, full details on the contest here, but I’m looking forward to this. It’s my first contest, so be gentle with me please 😉

Brad’s first blog contest – backup horror stories

And we’re done. I’ve received some excellent entries in the Backup Horror Story contest. Give ’em a read below, and feel free to add your comments too. And of course, feel free to share your horror story too, but sadly, this contest is closed.

Welcome to the first (of hopefully) many contest I’d like to run on my blog. I’ve been doing this tech-writing thing for a while now, but I’ve always been looking for ways to more closely engage with you. I think I may have found it with this style of contest — I get you to write for me. It’s ok, I have prizes 🙂

I’ll get to the details in a moment, but first let me frame the scenario: Backup Horror Stories.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all, at one time or another, lost some important piece data; your digital photo collection or music collection. Perhaps you’re a writer and all your ‘in progress’ manuscripts are now toast. You’ve lost data. No external copy or backup available. Poof! Done!!

That’s the scenario, now the details:

The Prizes and Sponsor
Clickfree – a cool Canadian company that specializes in no-brainer backup solutions is sponsoring this contest and has given me a few Clickfree Transformer SEs for this contest. Since Clickfree is all about simple backups, the theme of the contest kinda suggested itself 🙂

In the past, I’d reviewed Clickfree’s C2 Portable Backup drive – a solid unit. The TransformerSE we’re giving away in this contest uses similar technology, only you provide the USB drive. Here’s the official company line on the TransfomerSE:

The Clickfree Transformer SE (Special Edition) turns any USB hard drive, iPod, or iPhone into a simple automatic backup solution for your computer. Just connect the Transformer SE to your computer, then connect the USB hard drive, or iPod/iPhone via USB into the Transformer SE. Backup will start automatically onto the available free space of the connected product, whether it is a 3rd party hard drive, or an iPod/iPhone.

I will be doing a full review of the Clickfree TransformerSE very soon, but don’t let that stop you from entering the contest.

To enter:
Take your worst / best backup horror story and write-up a comment to this page that describes a data loss horror story that was averted or would have been prevented if you had a trusty recent backup. That simple.

Important: If you’ve not commented here before, your comment may be held in moderation until I can authorize it. No worries, I do this daily.

The Rules:
I’m keeping this fun, so the rules are simple.

1) It’s a blog comment contest – tell me your story in a comment to this page using the form below. Anyone can enter. Only comments entered into the comment form below on this page will be eligible.
2) After that you post a comment, let me know through a private email notification to me (via this in-blog contact form). It’ll let me know you’ve entered and be sure to provide a valid email address for follow-up should your entry be selected. No, I won’t sell or spam you..the email address is to be used ONLY for this contest. After the contest, all email entries will be deleted.
3) Top 3 comments will be selected for a prizes. I’m not sure what criteria I’ll use to judge yet. Maybe the funniest, most dramatic, most potential for loss-of-life, I don’t know. Maybe the most support from other commentors (get your friends to help out!). But there will be three, and I’ll write about them in a follow-up post.
4) Random draw for a few more prizes. It’ll be random.
5) Winners notified within a week, delivery within a month via Canada Post.
6) The contest starts now (March 1, 2010) and runs until Midnight, March 31, 2010. Timestamp of the blog and corresponding email to me will determine entry date and time.

Bonus Prize: Everyone Wins
Ok, now this is also very cool. For the month of March, the fine folk at Clickfree have also authorized a discount code for orders on their site. Place any order, use this code ( Grier10 ) and they knock 15% off the price of your order.

Tech with family at the holidays

This Christmas has probably the most intensive tech-soaked holiday period I’ve had with friends and family. It was refreshing to see the ways that recent tech developments have allowed us to enjoy the gathering, events, experience and excitement. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.


Three tech stocking stuffers

By now you should have had all your major gifts bought, wrapped and out of the way, but what about the little things, the cool tech toys that just fit in that stocking, hung by the chimney with care. Fear not, I’ve got a stocking stuffer list that will help you out in these final few hours before the big guy stuffs himself down your chimney to deliver the Christmassy booty.. …more



This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.