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Back it Up. Way Up.

So I was noodling around this week looking for topics to write about, and came across a video, of all things.

Shared by a friend, taking place very near where I used to live, it may at first seem to have nothing to do with writing. However, as I was watching that and contemplating what that homeowner has just lost, I was reminded that I have not yet talked about the backup systems I put in place earlier this year.

You should, of course, have some kind of backup drive on your computer. I have a nifty little one that isn’t much bigger than a deck of cards, but packs two terabytes of memory. The one that goes with my laptop I even got a carry case for, so it could travel with me and I wouldn’t risk losing a word. I’ve been talking with friends about building a second hard drive into my laptop that is essentially a replicate of the one I run, so in case of failure I could simply switch over. Given that the First Reader’s desktop is currently in the shop with what we thought was a dead motherboard or CPU, but which replacing those two things didn’t revive it… and that computer is only two years old. These things happen.

To round out the physical backups I also have a 4TB home cloud – a storage tower which can be wirelessly networked to the home computers and allows everyone access to commonly used files. I also use it for backup for my photography and art files, since they can get very bulky in terms of digital memory size. It’s a cool thing, a little time-consuming to set up, but with kids and my husband all able to access photos or music at will (we don’t own a lot of movies, but that’s supposed to be a big feature if you do that kind of thing) it’s far more convenient than me having to email stuff whenever they want it.

However, all of that is vulnerable if something happens at the house. Like being washed off the foundations… or a house fire, or a burglary, or whatever disaster can befall. So while these are the first line of my backups, I have two more, for a three-deep defense against loss of files and data. If you only ever write long-hand in notebooks, they are gone when the house is.

I took some time in considering how I would set up off-site backups. I use Dropbox for transferring files to clients – very large print-ready PDF files do not fit through email servers! – but after looking at what it would cost annually to use it as a backup for most of my files I opted to go in another direction. There is a cost with using cloud storage, unless your backup is small, and mine is not, but that’s just part of doing business and I’m happy to pay for a reliable service I don’t need to worry about suddenly disappearing and losing access to my stuff. I wound up going with two different things: Google for backing up documents, and Amazon Prime for backing up photos since they offer unlimited space for images. Google backup works fairly seamlessly: You set up the Backup and Sync app on your desktop, and tell it which folders it should back up. For $1.99 a month (and I think there’s a yearly rate, if you prefer to pay that way) you get 100 GB which is what I’m using since this isn’t a full backup for me, just my documents folder.

However, this is great if you want to be able to access your files when you are traveling, which I do. Being able to grab whatever manuscript I want (or, as I have needed to do, legal documents) when I was not at home is so very nice. If I didn’t remember to grab a file and put it on my laptop, as long as I have internet, I have that file. It’s so cool to live in the science fiction present!

My final line of defense is a full system image backup in the cloud. I’m using Backblaze, which is $50 a year, and should my hard drive fail, I’d just have to set up a new machine, and suck down the disk image from the web and voila! Back to the old set-up and all my data intact. Now, mind you, this protects one computer, and I suspect it would take ages to do that download. However, given how much data I have on this computer it’s essential to have it backed up: documents, images, artwork, client artwork and files, and so on and on.

But what if you don’t hit save? you might be asking. Actually, that is a concern, although I have myself fairly well trained to save anytime I look away from a file. However, I’m also doing most if not all of my rough drafts in Google Docs, because I can access them from anywhere, they save automatically, and I can share with my first readers (I do have more than one) and get real-time help on sticky spots. I then take the text into Word and format it the way I want it when it’s all said and done. Over the last year this has become a necessity as I’m rarely writing at home – lots of lunch time composition and so forth.

Three lines of defense. Because if you don’t have a plan for failure, you’re planning to fail, and there’s no point in setting up a defense unless it’s a defense in depth.

61 Comments
  1. paladin3001 #

    I need to do a touch more work on my backups. I do have a backup hard drive (4TB). I have a program that backs up any files that are new, so it’s doing almost daily backups.
    Need to work on better ways of backing stuff up though. Need to configure my google drive better as well.

    November 4, 2017
    • It’s tedious, but when you really need it, worth the time and effort.

      November 4, 2017
      • FWIW, at work I keep a few Linux boot DVDs. On occasion, when a hard drive OS is hosed, I’ve booted to Linux and salvaged data. I do not recommend this over back ups, but it’s sometimes an ace up the sleeve.

        November 4, 2017
        • I have also done this when I had a trojan take my laptop out. Only I was using a USB – my laptop does not have an optical drive.

          November 4, 2017
        • TRX #

          Puppy Linux is my go-to tool for that sort of thing. There are probably better tools out there now (I found Knoppix to be too hardware-dependent to be really useful) but I’m used to how Puppy works.

          November 4, 2017
          • Puppy Linux is what I ended up using, too. Have several distros. All are getting on the old side now, and probably should update.

            November 4, 2017
        • RCPete #

          I use rsnapshot on my Linux desktop. (It’s a bunch of scripts surrounding rsync, and it’s very flexible–also not friendly to the casual user). I do incremental backups (anything new or changed) twice a day, and the scripts give me weekly and monthly backups. I don’t do all the system, but the key sections. All this is on a USB hard drive that’s unmounted until it’s needed. The first backup took a while, but incrementals take a few minutes. At 6 months or so, I’ll stick this one in the safe in the shop and start another drive.

          I have a laptop that’s pretty much a clone of the desktop. It usually gets used every few days, or when I have to take a (rare) overnight trip. No rsnapshot for it, just yet. Might as well do it…

          November 4, 2017
          • I think you can do a similar thing on a Windows system using robocopy.

            November 4, 2017
      • TRX #

        Any backups are better than no backups.

        Back in 2012, one of Wired Magazine’s “experts” got pwned by a hacker. He managed to turn that into serveral articles.
        https://www.wired.com/2012/08/mat-honan-data-recovery/

        This is a guy who wrote articles about computer security, but had most of his stuff on “the cloud.” And when someone got into his machine (their entry was by guessing one of his passwords, not NSA-grade cracking) they deleted his stuff, and Apple shrugged and said “so sorry, we don’t keep backups of stuff you deleted from your cloud storage.”

        He lost a bunch of stuff he claimed was important… bedause he had NO BACKUPS. Not even ancient ones. Because he was using “the cloud”. He spent a lot of time blaming this company and that for his problems, and after he got thing sorted out… he blamed Apple and the other companies involved avain, and KEPT ON USING THEIR CLOUD SERVICES.

        “Tell us again how that worked out for you, Matt…”

        November 4, 2017
        • Draven #

          because Apple’s cloud stoarage isnt a backup service. Most of the cloud backup services are, and keep backups of your backups.

          November 4, 2017
  2. TRX #

    TRX’s Third Law of System Administration:

    Backups are good. But only restores count.

    November 4, 2017
    • Aye. Before I “rebuilt” one computer (not my primary) it got backed up to a nice USB drive (the laptop did not get that treatment and luckily the only burn was very very minor – I had to re-discover a cousin’s blog) which got checked out to be sure everything was really there and could be copied off it. Then the computer was wiped and started over. I plan to do the same for the primary, but I’m gonna give myself plenty of time to think that over.

      November 5, 2017
  3. TRX #

    If you’re targeted by an overzealous prosecutor, doxxed, or become the subject of an IRS or DEA investigation, your home and workplace may be stripped of anything that can store data. Nowadays, that would also include demanding knowledge of the existence of any cloud accounts so they can lock them down too.

    Physical backups OFF-SITE are your insurance against this. I have external USB drives with backups of varying ages stashed with friends in several counties. The top shelf of my gun safe has several drives that aren’t mine.

    Many people fail to consider the issue of licensed or copy protected software. If your computer goes away, how useful are your backups going to be without your operating system and application software? How much will it cost you to get a replacement computer set up to work? For that matter, can you even access your backups without a copy of some proprietary backup software so you can use its restore function? If it’s all ‘in the cloud’, so you have have the login and password written down on dead trees and stored off-site so you can recover it? And how long will it take you before you can get all this done and working?

    In many cases, a virtual machine setup like VMWare or VirtualBox can save your butt. With most of all of your licensed software installed in a virtual machine, you just back the VM up as a single file. And then you can restore it an any OS your VM software supports, and run “your system” on any available Windows, Apple, or Linux machine.

    November 4, 2017
    • Many people fail to consider the issue of licensed or copy protected software. If your computer goes away, how useful are your backups going to be without your operating system and application software? How much will it cost you to get a replacement computer set up to work? For that matter, can you even access your backups without a copy of some proprietary backup software so you can use its restore function?

      This is why I do a disk image. The Windows software (it came with Windows 7 and is still installed with Windows 10, though you have to look for it on your computer) allows you to make a restore boot disk when completed. That way, when you have a new hard drive, you can, in theory, run the boot disk and reinstall everything from the disk image.

      November 4, 2017
      • There’s a reason I don’t rely on copy-protected software. I can and will run on Linux WINE if something were to happen to my machine and I didn’t have access to my operating system.

        November 4, 2017
        • TRX #

          There’s a Wine version for Macs too.

          ReactOS is supposed to support printing now. I really need to follow up on that. Printing is something I do maybe two or three times a year.

          ReactOS is a “bootable Wine” that has been under development by a handful of hobbyists since the 1990s. It’s still pretty shaky and mostly works only in a virtual machine, but it looks enough like Windows to calm the people who freak out when they see one of the Linux desktops.

          November 4, 2017
          • Ah, no, ReactOS is meant to be a complete replacement for Windows that is compatible with existing Windows drivers and software; it has shared some code with WINE but is not the same thing. The current target is byte-compatibility with WinServer 2003, which is basically XP-plus-a-little. The most recent version runs well enough to scrape by, but is still fairly iffy for hardware compatibility (I made mine fall over by adding more RAM; unlike Windows, it doesn’t just ignore what it can’t use), and applications are still a crapshoot. On the plus side, it runs like the wind on old hardware (if it runs at all).

            If you want a linux desktop that will look and feel familiar to the Windows user who hates Win8/10, look at Trinity.

            http://trinitydesktop.org/

            I’ve been trawling linux for almost 20 years, vainly seeking one I could love for everyday use, and Trinity on PCLinuxOS is the first one I’ve kept as a long-term setup. (This is also a “rolling” distro, so you just update it rather than having to do a full reinstall.) All the goodness of Mandrake/KDE3 with a fraction of the bugs.

            November 4, 2017
            • TRX #

              I’m trying to tread the line between informative and pedantic here…

              I hung on to Mandrake and KDE3 until Mandrake went away, and then KDE3 went away, and I watched the Trinity guys spend endless hours porting Qt3 code to Qt4…

              November 4, 2017
              • Ages ago (it seems) I ran Win2k Pro and Mandrake (see, that long ago) side by side with a KVM switch. I’d tried jumping a few times and had issues, but then I switch to cross-platform programs one at a time. It was a slow process then. I’m not sure if I changed programs at one per week or one per month any more. It helped when $HOUSEMATE moved in and could give aid and advice about Linux. But it also helped that I wasn’t learning a new OS *and* a bunch of new programs. Just a new OS and maybe a couple different programs (file manage, that sort of thing).

                Eventually I used the KVM to jump back and forth less and less. Eventually some bit of hardware failed on the Linux machine and I switched to the Win2k box – and discovered it hadn’t been booted in over year. That’s when I realized I really was a Linux user. User, not expert or guru. I also realized I still grumbled at the computer a fair amount, but I outright cussed a whole lot less.

                November 5, 2017
        • Draven #

          Some of us can’t rely on non copy protected -i.e. open source or free- software, tho. Heck, I have stuff that uses flexLM, Sentinel hardware keys, and eLicenser hardware keys.

          November 4, 2017
          • TRX #

            Keep the contact information for the vendor with your backups, along with copies of the validation information and any activation numbers and a copy of proof of purchase. After a fire, flood, or theft, you might be able to sweet-talk the vendor into another dongle at a discount…

            November 4, 2017
      • TRX #

        > [Windows] restore boot disk

        I used to make those religiously. But I’ve never had one be of much use.

        November 4, 2017
  4. Second attempt:

    I have an encrypted USB drive (Veracrypt, because I haven’t found a good LUKS implementation for Windows yet), with a short loop of cord that I secure, using a simple lark’s head hitch, to another loop on a homemade lanyard I wear from my neck. This serves as an intermediate documents backup and for off-site document access. The drawback is the machine I’m accessing the file must have Veracypt. I encrypt the entire USB drive. You can set up an encryption program that runs from the USB drive, and the newer SansDisk has such, but, due to wear leveling, it’s theoretically possible for data to “leak” out of the big, encrypted, files that result from such a set up. If I lose the drive, no one can access my data.

    For the big back up, I use an external hard drive and do a disk image. That way, if the internal HD dies, I can replace it and restore the system back the way it was. This should be off site as well, but … hmm … may have an notion there.

    I do not like the cloud. I do not trust the cloud. After what happened with Google Docs, I especially don’t trust a cloud that Google has anything to do with. There was also an incident a number of years ago, before the cloud was a popular solution, where companies were storing documents on a site for easy access away from the office – until the government shut it down due to illegal activities on the site. When legitimate users complained, the government did a “Too bad, so sad,” and they were just out of their data.

    It only takes a moment to realize that off site backup have much of the same risk as cloud backup, because they can be hard to physically secure. Here encryption is probably an option, though, other than direct file copy, I haven’t tried it.

    Some may ask why encryption. Because back ups contain personal data, and that’s not good to have floating around.

    I’m interested in success in cloning virtual machines. I tried that, once, when we went to Windows 10 at the company, for legacy programs we run under XP. I used Oracle VM VirtualBox, which is open source, and had set up XP on one machine. When I ported it to an emergency laptop, it gave me the Microsoft licensing screen because XP detected it wasn’t on the same computer.

    November 4, 2017
    • I’ll second the wariness with GoogleDocs as backup. GoogleDocs has a mixed record on respecting IP.

      I have two on-site back-up hard-drives, a flash-drive that goes with me with the current fiction WIP and a few other critical files that might not be fully backed-up elsewhere, and I do a weekly off-site back-up. I’m not entirely happy with my current off-site storage, so thanks to those who listed other options.

      November 4, 2017
      • I’m not using Google Docs as a primary. But for the last few years both colleges I was at used it for various things, moving to something else was not terribly easy to do. And for what I’m paying them to do, the TOS seemed clear that it’s my stuff, not theirs. I don’t know why or how they would justify taking it.

        November 4, 2017
        • *Shrug* If it works for you, then it works. That’s what matters.

          November 4, 2017
      • TRX #

        Even an ancient backup is better than no backup at all. A friend or relative out of town can keep one for you. For that matter, the USPS considers hard drives with data on them to be “printed matter” and you can send them at book rate, unlike blank drives, which are parcel post.

        Something to keep an eye on is that, for reasons that were somewhat defensible at the time, modern PCs (of any brand, other than a handful of “enterprise class” file servers) are vulnerable to bad RAM causing write errors to the hard drive. I had a number of files corrupted by that over time. So if you have critially important files, and you’re overwriting your old backups, as most of us have to do, you can wind up overwriting all your good data with fresh, corrupted data. There are some ways to guard against this, but they’re tedious enough that even I don’t do it.

        Back in the days of tapes, we’d “retire” a set of tapes after a year, putting them in off-site storage. Nowadays I “snapshot” critical data to DVDs.

        November 4, 2017
        • One year, when I was working on our Load Forecast, which uses several linked sheets, I found both the working copy and back up copy of the main sheet was corrupted. Wasn’t happy at all.

          November 4, 2017
        • snelson134 #

          And there’s a problem with both of those that has been around since the floppy days. Basically, the read write heads get out of alignment with use. As a result, after a certain point in time and enough putting in / taking out media, or when you went to a different system whose heads were in a different alignment, it wouldn’t read the media. We used to have utilities that would detect that and account for it; I haven’t seen them recently.

          November 4, 2017
          • Draven #

            That’s because most operating systems no longer have the level of access necessary to do it. Also why the disk utilities meant for reading and writing the floppies from older samplers no longer work.

            November 4, 2017
    • TRX #

      Whenever you move XP to another machine it will want to re-validate its sekrit sqrrl code with the mothership. Changing the CPU, motherboard, network card, video card, or amount of RAM will sometimes set it off. Moving an existing machine to a VM will also do this.

      My success at moving a running XP system to a VM is about two our of three. The odd ones, though from other-wise identical machines (same brand of desktop, same Windows versions, etc.) just roll over and die. Though in fairness, the developers of VirtualBox do state that moving an running Windows system over to a VM isn’t supported…

      I have several XP VMs; I use them for running CAD and some CAM software under Linux. However, when I tried recovering some XP licenses for a client a few months ago, I found that Microsoft’s XP license server was no longer available. I don’t know when/if it came back up.

      November 4, 2017
      • Huh. I hope they still have the XP validation server going, but they’ll surely pull the plug on it one day. Something I ran into was a time difference between the machine and the validation server, and it wouldn’t authenticate. IIRC, had to apply the DST update to it first. Then it validated.

        November 4, 2017
  5. Sandman29 #

    A cloud/online backup option that you might also want to consider is SpiderOak. They offer zero-knowledge encrypted data backup when using their client software, which means that they cannot access your data. And they say that no-one else can access your data either, if you’re concerned about that. I switched from using Mozy, as SpiderOak is cheaper (I’m paying $9 per month for 1 TB of online backup, with multiple devices per account). They offer Android, IOS, Mac, Windows, and Linux clients. I’m not associated with them other than being a satisfied customer.

    It has all the usual cloud sharing/syncing features that other cloud providers offer.

    I really like the encrypted feature, and the price.

    November 4, 2017
    • Robin Munn #

      Second the SpiderOak recommendation. I was quite happy with CrashPlan until they discontinued their personal-backup service (they still offer business backup service), so I switched to SpiderOak because they offer a Linux client. They have some things they do better than CrashPlan (backing up the small files first and bumping the large files to the back of the line, because small files are more likely to be your irreplaceable data and photos, while large files are more likely to be videos ripped from DVD or downloaded from the Internet, which you could replace if you had to). They also have one thing they don’t do as well as CrashPlan did, but it’s a personal-preference thing and most other people wouldn’t be bothered by it.

      One thing to be aware of about SpiderOak: when they tell you not to forget your password, they really, REALLY mean it. Because their “zero-knowledge” system is set up in such a way that without your password, NOBODY can decrypt the backup files on their system — not even them. So if you forget your password, all the files you have previously backed up will be useless and you’ll have to start your backup over from scratch. This is an inevitable consequence of the way they set it up, where they couldn’t betray your confidence (and decrypt your files without your permission) even if they wanted to. So I definitely recommend them as a good off-site backup solution, but do NOT ever forget your SpiderOak password!

      November 4, 2017
  6. I do incrementals daily, and mirror once a month, with a full backup every week.

    November 4, 2017
  7. TRX #

    > the cloud

    When people first started talking about “the cloud”, I thought it was… more than just renting space on an off-site file server. I knew guys with TRS-80 machines that uploaded and downloaded their programs from CompuServe instead of using cassette tapes; that’s how long “the cloud” has been around.

    What I *thought* they were talking about was, say, connecting to three or more servers, some of whom had pieces of your files, and others with parity data, like splitting up binaries on Usenet and making .par files. The more .par data you have, the more servers can go down before your data becomes inaccessible.

    I’d actually be interested in something like that. Nobody would have more than pieces of my data, and I could split things up among servers that were as far apart as possible. (from the network point of view)

    Alas, “the cloud” turned out to be pixie dust on the same old remote file server idea. Doesn’t matter what kind of “containerization” and buzzwords they’re using, it’s still a single point of failure. (other than broadband itself being a single point of failure)

    November 4, 2017
  8. I have a bunch of USB sticks I keep backed up. One on my keychain. That’s good enough for the writing. For photos and etc., I’m living dangerously. I only have them backed up on old hard drives, plus a complete set on the current Big Computer. Older pics are on DVDs, but the last couple of years I’ve fallen down on the job.

    A recent graduation got me thinking about going back to my ancient Yashika large-format camera. Everybody is out there with their iPhone, and those pics are the very definition of ephemeral. Apple could wipe us all out any time, by accident.
    So, I’m going to look into a more secure backup that has remote hardware I still control.

    On a more short-term note, Word auto-save does not always auto-save! I found that out Thursday, when my PC froze and I had to re-boot. The whole day of writing was GONE, just like that. The only thing I saved out of the day was that snippet of pocket-lint I posted on the Extreme Pants thread.

    That little occurrence torqued me off something serious, let me tell you. Therefore, I’m resuming my habit formed during the Windows 95 days of incessant file saving and re-saving, onto multiple drives. I frigging hate re-writing stuff, it makes my pants go on fire.

    November 4, 2017
    • Lol! Yes, saving is important and relying on auto save for more than a few minutes is a bad idea.

      November 4, 2017
      • TRX #

        One writer I knew lost weeks of work due to some kind of computer snafu. After that he kept each chapter on a different floppy (this was some time ago) and used different floppies for each day of the week.

        One day his wife went in to talk to him and found he’d died at the keyboard. And she swears the dialog box on the screen was telling her his file had been successfully saved to Drive A:…

        November 4, 2017
    • I have a habit of pressing [Ctrl]+[S] after several minutes of work and after significant changes.

      November 4, 2017
      • Every paragraph. Learned that from someone else’s disaster my freshman year in college.

        November 4, 2017
    • Robin Munn #

      A USB key on your keychain is an almost good enough solution for an off-site backup, because if your house caught on fire during the day your keys would be in your pocket as you ran out of the house. But if the house caught on fire at nighttime, would you grab your keys as you escaped the building? Maybe. Maybe not.

      This is why you need an off-site backup as well: because any scenario that destroys your computer (a house fire, an earthquake of enough magnitude) will probably also destroy those multiple drives that you have sitting right next to your computer. (“In the other room” still counts as “right next to” when you’re talking about house-destroying disasters). So get an off-site backup solution (I like SpiderOak, and I’ve heard that Carbonite works well if you don’t need a Linux client) right now, BEFORE you have that earthquake or house fire or whatever.

      November 4, 2017
      • TRX #

        > would you grab your keys as you escaped the building? Maybe.

        No maybe about it. Glasses, gun, keys, phone, and flashlight are all right there by the bed. Wallet and miscellaneous items are in yesterday’s pants, by the bedroom door on the way out. Bug-out bags are by the front door; the smallest one has a change of clothing, toiletries, money, and other odds and ends.

        Yes, I *do* have bug out/evacuation procedures.

        November 4, 2017
      • Good points.

        November 4, 2017
      • There was some business (bank?) that was in one of the Twin Towers of the WTC. And had backups… in the other Tower. Oops. I suspect there were also more geographically distant backups as well. I do recall the claim that “if you don’t have at least three off-site backups*, then you don’t have backups.” I know I am nowhere near having things ideal.

        * And as said above, the backups must be verified as able to restore. Write-Only Memory…

        November 5, 2017
    • I should note here given the frequency of USB sticks being recommended that folks should not keep them in immediate close proximity to their phones when carrying them around. I’ve lost a couple of USB sticks that way, that fortunately didn’t have anything except some videos I liked to watch and music I listened to. (For when I was carrying around the itty bitty little first-gen eeePC that only had 4 gig of storage, barely enough for the OS, but hey, it ran Debian juuuust fine… and played 1080p video.)

      As for Word, it’s auto-save …doesn’t. LibreOffice’s saved me from forgetting to save a number of times.

      November 5, 2017
  9. “Given that the First Reader’s desktop is currently in the shop with what we thought was a dead motherboard or CPU, but which replacing those two things didn’t revive it… and that computer is only two years old.”

    Motherboards and RAM rarely die, and CPUs practically never. The most usual culprit in namebrand computers is the power supply unit — Dell in particular has an unfortunate habit of using the bare miminum PSU, which is easily overloaded and can cause the whole system to play dead even tho everything is technically alive and well. This is also the typical cause of genuine death (barring bad capacitors) when a motherboard croaks — being on marginal power stresses the electronics (suspect it causes corrosion at the micro level, which eventually reaches a point where the juice can’t get through). Such a PSU will test good when it’s not overloaded (and just the minimal default components can overload a Dell PSU; I’ve got a Dell Inspiron right over yonder that came to me as “dead” from exactly that — not a damn thing wrong that replacing the PSU didn’t fix).

    So throw out the power supply, replace it with an Enermax (I will take a used Enermax of uncertain provenance over brand-new anything-else), and chances are the rest will magically revive. Assuming, of course, it’s not one of the Stupid Dells that use a proprietary power socket. (Adapters may exist.)

    November 4, 2017
    • We have a new power supply, I bought it with the new mobo, but he hadn’t put it in since it was still powering on. But I took it in to the shop and told the guy to put it in. Might be the issue.

      November 4, 2017
      • I have an Acer Switch Alpha 12, https://www.acer.com/ac/en/US/content/series/switchalpha12
        This thing does everything I want, so far. Has an Intel i5 in it, plenty of headroom for office software, plays nice with the other Win10 boxen on my network. Best part, microSD card slot and 2USBs for using sticks. I got mine refurb for $650 CDN a few months ago.

        Meanwhile, the issues I’m having are on the “big” computer. So annoying.

        November 4, 2017
    • There is a reason that while the excess rating is “wasted” I went full-goose-bozo on the PSU of the (then-new) machine before I did much anything else. That’s one thing I really want to “loaf along.”

      November 5, 2017
  10. Stanley Miller #

    The WD Western Digital Live drives offer a lot in a small package with only one thing that you have to watch, they (WD) stop updating the internal software at some point leaving it vulnerable to new attacks. At that point unplug the network and just use it as a USB drive and you are safe.

    The WD Live drive’s personal cloud system is a decent option for off-site storage too. Take it to a friends place plug it in to power and their network and you can access it from anywhere using the WD server that powers the WD cloud system.

    November 4, 2017
  11. Mike Houst #

    Don’t forget that not only are you dependent on the software being usable, but also on the hardware running those applications. As systems evolve over time, both the media backups are stored on, and the computer architecture become obsolete. Migrate and convert all of your backups to the current formats, on the latest media, on current computer systems, using the current software.

    November 4, 2017
    • I like the amstrad we have. it’s still working.

      November 5, 2017
    • TRX #

      I have files that I initially created in the 1980s on a floppy-only machine running DOS 2.1. They’re sitting on an SSD with Linux right now.

      The same editor I ran under DOS in 1986, that created those files, is at this very moment running in an emulator window, because why bother to learn another editor when the number of CPU cycles required are so small GKrellM doesn’t even notice?

      November 5, 2017
      • Mike Houst #

        As long as GKrellM continues to run. But that’s the rub, isn’t it?

        November 5, 2017
        • *Grumble* I like GKrellm. I used to like the weather add-on.. until it stopped working and could NOT be convinced to resume. I finally gave up on it and installed the Xfce weather thingus.

          November 5, 2017
    • I still need to serially “print” some stuff from an Apple2 machine.. or decide I don’t need to preserve it.

      November 5, 2017
  12. c4c

    November 5, 2017
  13. Robin Munn #

    Something else that I haven’t seen anyone mention re: backup services is that it’s VERY important that they keep old versions of your files. That’s your protection against ransomware. If you’re just using a file-syncing service like Dropbox as your “backup”, you’re completely vulnerable to ransomware: the moment it encrypts your files, Dropbox will “helpfully” overwrite the good copies of your files with the bad, encrypted files, and you won’t be able to recover your original files without paying the ransom. (And I don’t need to tell this crowd what comes from paying the Danegeld!)

    On this one, I can give SpiderOak a solid recommendation. They default to keeping ALL versions of your backed-up files, NEVER deleting old versions unless you tell them to. (The extra copies do take up space in your account, but it’s worth it for the ransomware protection). And I have to give Carbonite a thumbs-down on this score: they default to only keeping old versions of files for up to three months. If it’s been more than three months since that file was modified, you can’t recover the older version. This is BAD for authors, because you could get hit with ransomware that encrypts some files you never open any more (the book you finished last year), and if you don’t notice within three months, poof! All your work is unrecoverable unless you pay the Danegeld.

    So when you pick an off-site backup solution, make SURE that it’s one that will keep ALL older versions of your files by default.

    P.S. My only association with SpiderOak is that of a satisfied customer; I have no personal stake in recommending them.

    November 6, 2017
    • snelson134 #

      Avast Anti-Virus, which I use, now has a “Ransomware Shield” feature, which allows you to only allow certain apps to work with your files.

      November 6, 2017

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