email mark@rosher.net

Backing up!

I came across another thread on Facebook the other day, where someone had lost a file. It happens… you crash the computer during a save, or the hdd fails totally, or the computer is stolen. So many ways to lose that 45,000 word thesis, or the next Hippy Pootle novel. I lost a year’s worth of photographs one time, and learned the lesson the hard way.

If you are working for a big company there’s an IT department and servers which are regularly backed up. In the home or student environment that’s not the case, but there are ways. It’s just discipline, really.

  • Save regularly. Don’t write War and Peace thinking you’ll save when you’re finished – the loss will occur on the last but one sentence!
  • At least daily, especially on that important document, copy the save to another location on your computer – either another folder or another hard drive. That’s your working spare, if the one you are working on goes bad. A corrupted file can easily be restored then by opening the spare, and you’ve lost only that days work.
  • Daily, or more often if it’s an active document, save to a memory stick or an external drive. Don’t leave that plugged in to the computer – put it away somewhere safe. Take it out only to save to it again at the end of the day – or first thing in the morning if you’re too tired!
  • Weekly, save to another memory stick of external drive and take it off site – drop it off at a friends house, or at your mums… somewhere where even if your house burns down there’ll be a safe copy. Do it to two sticks in succession and you can always be returning the other one. You get to visit your mum more often too.
  • If memory sticks and external drives are too costly, set up a spare email account, at say Gmail, and email your work to your spare address.
  • Apropos not leaving the memory stick plugged in, consider your anti-virus strategy too! If you pick up a virus you may manage to keep your offsite backup clean, but any memory stick plugged in will be extremely vulnerable.

All the above is maybe obvious, and I should apologise for even writing it down. But hey you lost that file, right?

Finally, whatever you use, don’t rely totally on one thing. My network server went badly pop last year. But I was lucky and my ‘worker’ hard didn’t fail at the same time. For a day though, I was sat there in the sure knowledge that Murphy’s Law applied and Loki was watching me closely. And now I’ve said his name, I’m going to start a tertiary set of backups… 😉

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