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Feb. 5 2010 - 1:39 pm | 33 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Friday ProTip: Back up your computers, folks

A hard disk drive with the platters and motor ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a quieter week from me than I had planned, and that’s not just because I’ve been planning the menu for my Super Bowl party. My laptop hard drive, about 3 years old, bit the bullet last week, and I only had about a 90% backup of my data. There’s a variety of reasons for this– some laziness, some reluctance to buy a big new external hard drive for Time Machine to run on, when i have so many other NAS’s and Drobos and externals laying around, doing various chores on the home network– I was sure I would scare up a couple hundred gigs of free space somewhere on the network in time to do a comprehensive backup. But I didn’t.

What was fascinating to me is HOW MUCH of my data lives on the Google cloud. My email, address book, web bookmarks, some work documents and other bits are all stored in various places on Google’s fast and free backups. While I don’t love my data being out on the net, I do love that it saved my bacon this time. I’m not having to reassemble my rolodex or write people telling them I’ve lost their email. That’s pretty sweet.

The biggest hit was my music. My most recent iTunes backup was several months ago. So while I have my entire back catalog, some new additions have been lost. That said, iTunes has a once-in-a-lifetime get out of jail card, where if you ask nicely, they just might let you re-download all your content, for free, ONCE. I did, and they restored some 600+ items to my Library. That was HUGE.

I also happened to burn a disc of photos from my recent trip to the national parks in southern Utah for my friend and traveling companion Boris, which makes up for my lack of a recent Aperture backup, and the fact that I never got around to uploading them on Twitter. All in all, things could’ve been WAY worse. I was a web developer for a small nonprofit in DC before entering journalism, and being a jack of all trades, I also helped out some with IT, designing the backup system, etc. I’m pretty sure my geek decoder ring has been permanently revoked after this embarassing episode.

And that’s really the only reason I’m sharing it. Data loss: it can happen to you, too, no matter your geek cred. I share my shame in the hopes of helping you avert yours. If you’re looking for something to do today, buy yourself a big external hard drive like the one I just bought, and set up Time Machine (simple) or a Windows backup program. Or, at the minimum, set up a Free CrashPlan account for your documents folder. Trust me, the time and little money you spend on it will be well worth it someday. I’m sure many of you out there are tut-tutting me now, but I KNOW there’s a few of you reading this, thinking, ‘yeah, I should get around to that already….’

TRUST me. Do it right now.


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    I'm here to participate in an experiment. I live professionally by two maxims:

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