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Backups: There Are No Excuses

Backups**Rant warning!**

On TV this week there was a story on a woman offering a $20000 reward for her stolen computer because of all the precious digital memories she had stored on it. She said that she did have a backup drive, but that was in the same bag as the computer. (*sigh*)

As i tell everyone, backups are important! As with anything important, you shouldn't put everything in one basket. If you have data (digital photos/videos/music, personal information, documents etc) that you simply could not afford to lose, you should make sure to cover your bases so that under any conceivable situation that you do not lose it.

Consider the following situations, and if you're current backups (if you have any) would cover it.

- Your computer malfunctions and the hard drive (the thing that stores the data) dies
- All your electronic equipment in your home is stolen (like the woman previously mentioned)
- Your entire house is flooded/burns down.

In all these situations, you should have backups to preserve your important data. Having a backup drive next to the computer is fine for accidental deletions or isolated hardware failures like the first scenario, but if your home gets burgled or burns down, they are absolutely useless.

Everyone should have some form of 'off-site' backup for those latter sort of scenarios, and like all kinds of risk management it's all about how much risk you want to take against the effort put in to mitigate against it.

I'll run through my own backup regime: weekly i backup my important data onto an external hard drive at home, as well as a portable external drive that I take to work every day. Therefore, i'm covered against an isolated hardware failure with a backup that is at most a week old, and five days of the week i'm covered against a disaster at home whilst i'm at work.

To cover those other two days that i'm usually at home (weekends), every quarter (but recently only every 6 months) i burn all the important data to DVDs and store those DVDs at my parents' house which is two suburbs away. Therefore, if my whole neighbourhood burns down on a weekend i'm still covered.

So except for a city-wide fire or nuclear strike (events which are rare enough for me to run the risk), i'm covered by backups which are at best less than a week old, or at worst, 6 months old.

For me this is a minimum; i would be devastated if i were to lose all of the memories Des and I have captured digitally over the past five years: anniversaries, birthdays, graduating, our wedding and honeymoon, moving out, etc.

Especially with data-storage prices at almost astonishing lows (DVDs are now about 50c each if you buy a spindle, and large-capacity external hard-drives have never been so affordable), there really are no excuses for not having adequate backups.

If your digital belongings are really that important to you, you should guarantee that only the most inconceivable of disasters should be able to rob you of them; anything less is negligence.

2 thoughts on “Backups: There Are No Excuses

  1. you could just set up a gmail account and e-mail them to that account...of course, gmail could conceivable shut down (...), but surely that's both simple and practical.

  2. That's fine for the occasional small document, but for hundreds of megabytes (or even gigabytes) of photos or videos, using gmail as a back is pretty impractical.

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