The importance of backups

BoingBoing recently posted a link to a horrifying video documenting an incident where the Pixar Toy Story team almost lost a year’s worth of work.

It’s a good reminder of what criteria your back process should fulfill:

  1. What happens when your computer crashes?  The simplest approach is to buy a 100$ external hard drive.  If you use a Mac, then setting up TimeMachine is incredibly easy.  If you use a PC, I recommend CrashPlan.  If you don’t have many pictures, a large flash drive is probably good enough.
  2. What happens when your house burns down or you get burglarized?  Generally, a good approach to getting an off-site backup is to purchase a second external hard drive and leave it at your parent’s house, friend’s apartment, or in a drawer at work.  This is manual, but if you can remember to swap out your hard drives every 6 months or so, you won’t loose to much data.
  3. What happens when one or both disks fail?  This may sound improbable, but I’ve consulted for companies that had 3 redundant backup systems fail.  The safest way to be safe is to make sure that your computers (your home computer and your laptop) are syncing data back and forth.  Using a program like DropBox or Google Drive is a generally safe alternative.  You can also setup Crashplan to sync computers together.

For businesses, or people with a large investment in digital assets, it’s best to also get an cloud backup system.  I’ve used Crashplan ok before, but one of my parents had a bad experience with Mozy.

At the very minimum get an external disk.  Hard drive always fail eventually, and you don’t want to lose your pictures, documents, or videos when your disk bites the dust.

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