“Belts and Suspenders” or how to be really protected

Everyone knows they should be backing up their data, right?  Just like flossing and rotating your tires though, sometimes it’s easy to let it slip for a while.  But for those of you that *do* backup your data, are you doing it right?

First of all, there’s really no excuse for not backing up your data now-a-days.  External hard drives are really affordable and dead simple.  Backup software is built into most modern operating system to make it as invisible as possible.  If you’re not backing up your data, you must have some sort of obsession with tempting fate.

But even if you are backing up your data to an external hard drive, is that enough?  I’d wager that it’s not.  Backing up your data is a great way to recover something you accidentally deleted or to revert back to a known version of a file.  But what if your house burns down?  That external hard drive won’t do you much good if it’s a melted puddle of plastic.

On-line backup services are really great.  They mitigate a variety of problems that aren’t covered by local backups on external hard drives.  You don’t have to worry about hard drive failures.  You don’t have to worry about the physical destruction of the media (like if your house is swept away in a tornado).  So on and so forth.  Sure, it costs an annual fee, but the real issue there though is that the recovery interfaces aren’t quite as evolved as their desktop counterparts.  Sure, you can recover a file, but compared with TimeMachine, off-site backups are pretty archaic.  Plus, on-line are S-L-O-W.  Naturally, if you have a faster internet connection, your backups and recoveries will be faster, but if you’ve backed up your entire music collection, all your applications and all your photos, you could be looking at 50Gb!  Just think about transferring a 50Gb file.  Of course after the initial backup, it’s much faster,  but a full recovery would still take quite a while.

Some people go way overboard and have a local hard drive for backup, use online backup services AND have off-site storage of redundant backup media.  They will execute a backup on a daily basis to one hard drive and then execute a weekly backup to a different hard drive.  Then they’ll take the weekly drive to an off-site location like a safe deposit box or something.  They might even integrate monthly backups into the mix.  Jeeze guys… that’s serious.

For me, I use a local hard drive and the on-line scenario.  The local backup is great for finding things I lost or deleted that I shouldn’t have.  The on-line is really the disaster recovery safety net.  I would really only use the on-line recovery in the event that my house burned down or something like that.

Well something like that happened to me recently.  My external hard drive FAILED!  I noticed the system wasn’t backing up my files anymore.  When I checked it out, I discovered the hard drive had gone bad!  I’m lucky I didn’t need a recovery at that point.  I’m also lucky that if I did, I could have turned to my on-line backup.

What would happen to you if the hard drive in your computer failed today?

You’ve been warned.

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