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Backing Up Your Data

January 1st, 2008 · No Comments

Backing Up Your Data

Or Oh My God! The Computer’s Smoking!!!!!

I stopped keeping cancelled checks under the kitchen sink the first time I had a leak. The first time my car was stolen I stopped keeping all of my papers in the trunk. Likewise it is not a good idea to keep the only copy of your important computer files in a single place.

Everyone has to determine the level of danger and the degree of hassle they are willing to put up with, to protect their data. You can go to the extremes and design a computer system that can survive a nuclear strike. Or you can be cavalier and hope for the best. But for most people the answer is somewhere between a bunker and crossing your fingers. Here are a few ideas:

  • Backup your data to another physical place. There are a plethora of internet based backup sites. I use my own website as my backup location, it’s in WA, 2000 miles away.
  • Use CD-R’s for your backup. Quick, easy and cheap, an excellent choice for backup. However, read the other article here about how to protect them in storage.
  • Use tape or diskettes. If you have a tape drive, replace it, CD’s are superior in every way. If you just have documents with no graphics, floppies may be OK for you. However, CD’s are superior again. Consider buying a CDR drive they’re under $100.
  • Hot spare drive- excellent for maintaining up to date backups. However, vulnerable if a calamity strikes the building. Don’t rely on this method alone.
  • In fact, don’t rely on any single method alone. Try to use a couple of methods in case one is corrupted and all of your backups are incomprehensible gibberish.

Managing your backups can be a pain but it is good practice. Experts suggest that you keep sets with the following scheme:

  • Monthly Set- is a complete backup done from scratch every month.
  • Even Week Set- is a set kept off site and rotated every other week. (often kept in a car or a home away from the office.)
  • Odd Week Set- is a set kept on site and rotated with the Even Week Set every two weeks. (in the event your computer is physically destroyed, your off site set is not older than 2 weeks.)
  • Daily Sets- Two, even and odd days. This is for those planning a space mission or heart transplants.

    So now the question is what do I actually do? Well for my web site customers all of the information is kept on their web servers and on my computer. Most Internet hosting companies have data backup schemes so the web sites are well protected.
    For my personal data, I backup every few days to my wife’s computer which is networked here in our home. I also backup many of my files to my website which is in Seattle WA. I don’t backup daily, or even weekly all the time. But my important files are never more than 2 weeks out of date with my backup source.

The most important thing about backing up is to get in the habit of doing it. If you backup regularly, then you won’t be hurt too badly when Murphy’s Law catches up with you.

Finally, there is a very good backup utility included with Windows XP. For those of you who haven’t

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