Systematic Backups

Are your pictures, financial data, letters, music, videos and other critical data protected?

  • Is it protected if your disk drive dies?
  • Is it protected if your computer is stolen?
  • What about if there is a fire at home that destroys everything?
  • If you corrupt a file?
  • What about the data changed or added within the last 24 hours protected?  The last hour? Or was the last backup a week ago?

If your answer is no, or sorta or something other than a definitive YES, then you need to address backups. There is no excuse not to have reliable and automated backups.

About a year ago, my wife’s computer crashed and wouldn’t reboot. It was either a disk failure or file system corruption.  I took her Macbook to the Apple store and had a Genius look at it and it turned out that after running some diagnostics, it was clear that the file system had become corrupted, and irreversibly. The only option was to reformat the file system, reload MacOS, the apps and all the data. Fortunately, we had a very recent Time Machine backup (Time Machine does incremental backups hourly). I was able to recover the entire system from the backup and the computer was back to normal.

If the Time Machine backup had failed, I would have manually reinstalled the OS and applications, then I’d have restored the most recent backup from Mozy, which provides our daily Cloud backup of critical data, including pictures and music.  This would have been more work, but the data wouldn’t have been lost.

The good news for all you procrastinators is that there are much better tools out there than there were just a few years ago  and there is less reason not to backup your systems. Remember, backups should be automated and there should be frequent local backups and not as frequent remote backups. Dual backups are crucial for a number of reasons, including restore failure.

Exactly 3 years ago, I wrote a post entitled Data safety: Backups. I’d highly recommend that you start with this post, as it provides a general overview of backups, including terminology and strategy for insuring data protection.

Next, I’d recommend reading the following Lifehacker article: There’s No Excuse for Not Backing Up Your Computer. Do It Now.  This article provides some good tools, especially for Windows for doing local and remote backups.

So, when someone in your family loses that favorite set of pictures or videos, you can be the hero! 🙂

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