Category Archives: Software

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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Divide and be ruled, by social media suppliers

Yet again today I was sent another example of some digital suppliers who have hooked a public sector organisation on their services and then started to hike the prices.

I suppose its the nature of the game that we expect something slightly different from some of the social media suppliers that we use in the public sector. Is it because we are nice and cuddly that we expect ‘niceness’ or ‘reasonableness’ from our suppliers. Bet that does not happen in the private sector.

So why are we always surprised when our nice free software that we rely starts to say ‘oh sorry but we do need to make some money and we will be charging from 1 April etc’.

Is this just us being naive or stupidly optimistic? Even that might not be bad except that we do not seem to learn and keep going down the same route of finding a nice tool that works quite well without sending out rude messages on our behalf or spamming everyone. We all jump on that digital bandwagon to later find that they get bought out by someone else, run out of money or want to start charging.

Is there anything that we can do to break this cycle? Well perhaps we need one ring to rule them all. I had hoped that a certain organisation not a million miles from High Holborm might have been able to help in this matter but there has not been much evidence of that so far.

However perhaps the solution is in our own hands and we can forge our own ‘ring of power’ by talking to each other and not making lots of one-off agreements with suppliers. We could make sure that we say, ‘I will be talking to x department so see what they think about your sevices and what they pay. Can we do a collaborative deal?’

It’s not that difficult, or is it? Here’s hoping for change in 2013.

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