Back up your data

Do you make a backup of any work you do on your computer?
Do you back up your data in such a way that you can’t easily lose them?
Or do you just postpone and avoid that thinking it can wait until you have time for it?

Back up, Back Up, BACK UP!

back-up

Undoubtedly you’ve heard that priceless piece of advice many times and I would love to know how seriously you take it. I heard several stories of people I knew who were let down by their computer and lost all their data because they made no backup. No at all. And a while ago my colleague told me that she lost her old photographs because she had them backed up but first her computer crashed and then her external disk with the backup failed and nothing was left…

I too have heard that recommendation many times, more often than I can remember, and I have always acknowledged its importance. Though as much as I agreed with it, I didn’t use to be really responsible in that regard. I was backing up my data at whim, once a year or twice a year if I was lucky, by means of first CDs and DVDs and later of an external hard disk all my family members used. Along with diving into photography more eagerly, I started to feel I would really hate losing my photos and decided to buy my own external hard disk. I started to make backups more often, let’s say once in three months. It takes some time after all and I never have enough time… so I settled somewhere in between. Then last week my laptop announced a failure, reporting problems at starting that it wasn’t able to deal with, “froze” and denied further cooperation. Of course, at that moment my first thought was “Oh my, when did I make my last backup??!”

I was quite lucky to find out that I backed up my files just a month ago and there wasn’t much new I would lose. A few hours of careful work when I was creating copies of my blog posts but that could be repeated, some articles from the Internet that I could find again and luckily not many photos and edits. I just realised I didn’t have e-mail addresses saved elsewhere than in the email software in my laptop and some emails I wanted to keep. It would hurt to lose those data but not unbearably. But I wasn’t going to throw in the towel yet and managed to persuade the laptop to make the most recent copy including the email contacts and copies of the posts before it crashed entirely and just asked for operating system repair. Even worse, in the service where I took it they told me that it is probably not any software issue but hardware failure and I may need a new hard disk. Hard disks are not that reliable components, they said. Whatever the reason, I’ve got the message.

It will cost some money and I’m quite limited in my intentions at the moment but all the data are saved, unless the external disk fails as well. Do you make multiple backups as it is also recommended? This is a step I’ve never taken but now, when I might be dependent on functionality of that one copy, I’ve started considering it. I also need to set a better schedule and strategy for backing up my data, some months are busier than others…

Lucky me, it seems that this story has had quite a happy ending. Which would have yours?

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18 Comments

  1. Good you had back up! Still it's stressful to lose anything. I once had my laptop stolen but luckily they didn't get my backup. I store photos on an external drive with a duplicate on a second drive. Soon I'm going to transition to storing on one drive and a Smugmug cloud. I also burn CDs of special events to store in my husband's office in case our house burnt down etc. All important documents are stored on a Dropbox cloud and my computer's hard drive is automatically backed up twice daily on a time capsule.

    1. Sarah, I’m impressed. I have to copy your comment and put it somewhere to think about it. The combination of one external drive and a cloud sounds good, I just can’t make myself trust those cloud services. It feels as if putting any personal data online would get them automatically in jeopardy…

  2. I try to remember to back up my photographs on a regular basis and at least save the export file from my blog so that I can recreate if that fails.

    Mr C's hard disk fatally crashed this weekend which served as timely reminder to ensure that the things important to me are backed up.

    1. Red, there are many articles on the Internet about how to back up one’s data. I would copy all those photos from your memory cards and the ipod to your laptop and then to an external drive, that would be the easiest way. You need to have a device that is able to read those cards (e.g. a camera or the PC itself) and a USB cable to connect your ipod to your computer, that’s where I would start. And if you couldn’t figure out how to do that, there might be some PC service in your town where they could help you.

  3. Oh my, Petra. What a blessing to have such a recent backup, but how sad to have lost all that work you recently put into copying your blog posts into Word documents. I have an online backup service called Carbonite, but I've recently been thinking about adding an external hard drive for an extra layer of security. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I lost all my data. But it might feel like it.

    1. Linda, as I’ve mentioned, at the last moment I managed to make the most recent backup which included also the copies of the posts, so fortunately neither those were lost. Anyway, I would regret more losing the new photos and edits, you never take/make the same ones twice.

      I think the extra layer of security is really useful, I need to think about it. As I wrote in my reply to Sarah, I feel suspicious about those online services but combined with the external drive, that might be the safest way of backing up. If we lost our data, it wouldn’t be the end of the world but it would feel like it… For sure.

  4. I always back up all my images that I want to keep Including precious family images also loads of personal stuff on to a standalone Hard Drive. Great new image of yourself on the side bar Petra.

    1. Roy, thank you. I thought that adding an image of myself onto the main site would make the blog a bit more personal…

      I think that using a standalone hard drive is a good solution and using two would be even better. It was confirmed today that the hard disk in my laptop is broken and needs to be exchanged so I have just that one external hard disk with all my data and I’m a bit nervous that I don’t have one more back-up copy in case something happened with this one while my laptop is being repaired…

  5. The point could not be stressed more. Personally I use two external hard-disks (one of which ought to have been kept somewhere else ….) and I have an electronic backup-service called Jottacloud that makes constant copies of all the folders I select. However, you need a fairly broadband connection for this. I have 50/50.

    1. Rune, thank you for sharing your way of backing up, it’s very interesting to know how others proceed. I don’t know what kind of connection I have in these technical terms but my son also uses some cloud services to back up his latest work, he just uses those free ones where there is limited storage such as 1 GB or 1,5 GB. It’s interesting that several people mentioned paid cloud services for backing up their data, I wouldn’t have taken them into account.

    1. Donna, I agree, it IS scary. I had confirmed that in this case it really was the failure of the hard drive so now I have the drive replaced, feel happy to have that back-up copy… and think about implementing better routine than I had.

  6. I haven't backed up in quite a while… When I do, I back up to an external hard-drive that isn't even in our house but is stored at my husband's work (just in case there is a fire). Your post motivated me to ask him to bring it home next week so I can make a back that has been long overdue. Thank you.

  7. Oh dear … while I'm sorry to hear of your computer failure, I'm heartened to hear that you didn't lose too much (although losing anything is not good.) I have an automatic backup of my computer going on all the time, plus I copy really important stuff to another external drive as necessary. I also have a plug-in on my blog, backing up all the time. Perhaps I'm paranoid? 😉

    1. Paranoid? No Barb, I don’t think so. 🙂 You are just cautious and responsible and your measures are inspiring. I’m really glad I started this discussion as I feel so enriched by reading about what others do and don’t do…

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