Back-up, what back-up?

I have been interested in back-ups and related issues for some time.

I think it came from my mum telling about her colleague who had the finished copy of his PhD in his car which was then stolen. Or the famous example of the Bank of France which had a fire which burnt all their back up tapes which were on-site. Quelle dommage.

for example at home I have always had a back-up power supply to my desktop as when I first moved in there were one or two power cuts.

Well what about back-ups of your personal files and photos?

I know quite a few people who actually make copies onto CDs of files. However I have always said to them – well unless you store them somewhere ‘off-site’ – that’s not in your own house – it’s not a back up. How geeky is that? Of course you also have to remember to make a copy on a regular basis.

Does this really matter – well only if you value those pictures of the kids, honeymoon or memorable holiday.

So a number of years ago I started to use a commercial service in Ireland CRITICali that was not cheap but very reliable.

As more personal services developed I then moved onto to Mozy and Carbonite which are both very good. A key point being that they run back-ups automatically – what’s the point if you have to remember to press a button to make a back-up? If I had to recommend one supplier for a PC it would be Carbonite – dead simple to use and very quick.

However I then complicated my life by using Linux at home and back-ups have never worked quite so well. Until recently I have been using Spideroak and Jungledisc (which uses Amazon servers).

I am now using Jungledisc and Dropbox.

You might have noticed that I always have two services running. Well what is the back-up to the back-up otherwise? Paranoid, me? Well I have deleted photos in the past so let’s just say that I have learnt my lesson.

Things keep moving on and a number of companies such as Apple have back-up to the Icloud. However if you use these services here are a few things to check.

  • Is the backup automatic?
  • Can you access the files not using the device you copied them from?
  • Can you select which files and folders to back up; and more importantly which ones to recover?
  • Can you do this without overwriting your existing files or wiping them all out?
  • Have you ran a test to make sure that you can recover files?

So these days back-ups are a lot easier and services provided more widely and with a few simple tests you should be able to sleep soundly knowing that your files and photos are safe.

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6 Comments

Filed under Software

6 responses to “Back-up, what back-up?

  1. davidpea

    I’m lazy but I work with many GBs of photos and video. I regularly sync my desktop to my laptop which normally travels with me. And I keep an offsite backup on 1TB hard drives in the office and in my car. Works for me…

  2. davidpea

    I strongly endorse the importance of a working and viable backup strategy. I’ve come across too many contacts who have lost everything (photo library etc) ‘cos they dropped an external hard drive, say. So the “never less than 3 copies – at least one offsite” rule always makes sense for anything of professional or personal value.

    • Nick M Halliday

      Yes a good point. Its really useful to have examples of when things go wrong to remind us of what we should do. Photos seem to be a big issue today due to the volume that we all take with phones and cameras.

  3. davidpea

    I’d go further… If people are using a desktop or laptop computer, then backups are a less difficult concept. But people seem to have lots of photos, videos on phones and – unless they’re synced back to a cloud service (which I personally avoid) – they never think about backups. Phone lost or stolen – archive gone for ever… So a new type of backup problem. I keep seeing sad pleas from people with lost phones.

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