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Back up Your Data!

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Everybody knows that you hit ‘save’ before you walk away from the computer.

And then you end up with a situation like mine, in which I was surfing the ‘net last week, not doing anything in particular, and my laptop died. I don’t mean that it went black but started back up again; it DIED. Without any warning whatsoever. It was only two years old, and so far, has refused to cooperate with all attempts at necromancy.

So I was left with this very expensive paperweight and, even worse, no way to get to my unpublished work. You see, whenever I publish a book, I save a copy of the manuscript to a USB drive. And I periodically save my notes to that drive, but it’s not a regular thing.

The computer didn’t quite die at the worst possible time, but it was pretty close. I wanted to bring out A Small and Inconvenient Disaster last week, and had a short story due on the 31st. Neither of these stories were saved to the USB drive; though I had a very early draft of ASaID in my email.

I’d love to say that I worked some kind of technological miracle and recovered my work. But I’m not the hero of this story; my father-in-law is. He’s a tech wizard, and managed to pull the hard drive out of the old laptop, copy the files, and add them to the new laptop. But if not for Dan working his magic, I’d be out of two finished stories and a whole lot of unfinished work.

So I’ve learned a little lesson, and passing it along to all of you: back up your data! I hate to sound cliché, but I never thought it would happen to me, until it did. I’m very grateful to Dan for getting me back on track, and I don’t want to make him rescue me again. So there will be some changes in Smithville, re: the save button. I’ve ordered an external hard drive, the little USB drive has been added to, and I’ll be sending myself a lot of emails with attached manuscripts in the future. The last one is a bit of a concession; I don’t like cloud storage, but I see the use of sending my data to myself.

The old laptop is Dan’s new pet; he’s going to see if he can get it to run off of an operating system stored somewhere other than the hard drive. I have a shiny new laptop- an extra expense, alas!- that has showed no signs of dying. And I sent in the short story on time. A Small and Inconvenient Disaster should be available on Amazon later this week.

Don’t you just love happy endings? But not all tech disasters turn out so well. Tell me below in the comments- have you ever lost your data? Were you able to recover the files? What changes did you make to your setup afterward?

 

Image is from Pixabay

59 Comments
  1. After hearing an ear-splitting shriek my freshman year in college because someone worked all night and lost her essay fifteen minutes before the computer CPR folks opened for the day (before auto-save), I always save, and I have back-up hard drives, plus I rent off-site back-up. Because I’ve heard stories about burglars grabbing the hard-drive back-ups with the computers, or a house fire, or [insert disaster here]. Two is one is none applies to more than just physical self-defence.

    September 4, 2019
    • Took me YEARS to stop hitting “CTRL-S” every time I stopped to think. My mom drilled it into my head, so I haven’t lost anything that wasn’t on a floppy.

      September 4, 2019
      • TRX #

        I’ve recounted how G. Harry Stine’s wife found him dead at his keyboard, with the dialog box on the screen telling him his file had been successfully saved to Drive A:…

        September 5, 2019
  2. But I’m not the hero of this story; my father-in-law is. He’s a tech wizard, and managed to pull the hard drive out of the old laptop, copy the files, and add them to the new laptop.

    Oh, thank goodness, I wasn’t looking forward to trying to find a walk-through of how to get an external in the correct size, etc.

    September 4, 2019
  3. I had a hard drive making bad noises, AKA Me: “My fan sure is noisy.” Husband: “That’s not the fan, that’s your hard drive.”

    So I backed up all the stuff I’d worked on recently . . . but it was still working . . . until it wasn’t. I had online backup, but it just updated every night . . . and I’d set it to just copy documents.

    So I lost a day’s work and all the cover art since I’d burned a CD a couple of years ago . . . or put it one of my laptops . . . but I’d posted low-res in various places, so I either hunted down the purchased art and rebuilt the ones I’d lost, or decided the stories need new covers anyway.

    But I’d just as soon skipped that horrible sinking feeling when I realized the online backup didn’t have _any_ picture files.

    September 4, 2019
  4. My freshman year of college I typed up a paper due the next day and saved it on the hard drive. When I opened it up in the morning it wouldn’t open. My roommate (computer science major) was able to get to the text through Norton or something, but it was garbled. It printed out in ASCII on one side of the page, and garbled english on the other. I had to retype it all. I turned it in late. I don’t think the instructor believed me that the computer ate my homework.

    September 4, 2019
  5. Margaret Ball #

    We used to have a cat who liked to snooze on top of my monitor. Thing was, he snored… and that snore sounded exactly like the warning rattle of a hard disc about to fail. Thank you, Rampal, for training me to save early and often!

    September 4, 2019
  6. I once watched a guy typing a big long presentation into an Osborn 1 “portable” at work. Didn’t stop to save because it took a -really- long time to write to floppy. He lost the whole thing when somebody shut off the lights at the end of the day and killed his wall plug. “OHHH!” is all I heard.

    Since then I hit save compulsively. I have -many- backup USBs which I keep current constantly. I have a laptop. I have a NAS doing hourly snapshots and its not in the same building as my PC. I have shit backed up 12 ways from Tuesday.

    And I STILL got caught short a few weeks ago when Windows Update killed my PC. The forced update failed and then it failed to roll back to the previous version, killing the operating system deader than a mackerel. Restore from NAS? Nope. Rebuild from DVD? Nope. Pull hard drive, stick in another machine and rebuild Windows that way? Nope. Its dead, Jim. SSD drive, too. So I copied everything off the drive, re-partitioned it to bare metal and re-formatted it, -then- it finally worked.

    But if it died once, it will die again.

    So I built a new PC (it was time anyway) and put a bare-metal copy of Win10 on new SSD hardware AND on a hard drive. Recovered all my stuff from various backups, including browser history and email. It took about a week.

    Every time I have one of these crash/rebuild cycles, I have to go re-learn where everything is stored, what the file formats are, etc. Firefox for example changed the format, name and location of its bookmarks since last crash. That took a bit of sleuthing to find buried in a hidden folder.

    Bottom line, to recover from a computer crash you are going to need at least one more working PC and internet that works, to look up stuff you forgot or they changed on you.

    After all that what happened last Friday to the shiny new PC? Windows Update forced a download, which failed, and then had to roll back to the old version. 😡 Steam came from my ears. But it didn’t die, thank Saint Ada.

    Yes, you better believe all my work is backed the hell up, as are all my pictures, my phone, and every damn thing I can think of. Backed up on hard drives both in computers and in a drawer, backed up on USB, and on DVD. What worries me is what did I not think to back up?

    September 4, 2019
  7. Zsuzsa #

    I live with a disk drive engineer. He once told me that he thinks it’s a minor miracle that anyone ever writes something to disk and then manages to read that same thing back.

    Yeah. Back up. A lot. To as many devices as you can.

    September 4, 2019
    • TonyT #

      PRML (Partial Response Maximum Likelihood) — reading from spinning rust.
      Flash memory, especially the multi-bit NAND variety, is pretty scary too.

      September 5, 2019
      • TRX #

        After I had a read error trying to back up 1 100GB virtual machine file from an SSD I got a crash course in how filesystems have “improved” in the last 20-odd years. It was disheartening to find that a plain MS-DOS floppy disk was more secure…

        I wound up building a triple-redundant zfs array, but zfs is still more of a cult than a filesystem…

        September 5, 2019
  8. I set my Scrivener up to save backups to an external hard drive automatically. The one thing I’ve never done is tested how well (if?) the recovery feature works, though. I’m guessing I should at some point. 😐

    ‘Course I only write fiction as a hobby and have never inflicted my prose on anyone.

    September 4, 2019
    • Do yourself a favor, go test it right now. My Netgear NAS is great, but it sometimes stops getting backups for no apparent reason. Sometimes its Windows, sometimes gremlins.

      Last time Win10 Update screwed the pooch, it also screwed my backup arrangements AND the network. Took a bit of doing to get it working again.

      Trust nothing, verify everything.

      September 4, 2019
      • Mary #

        Yes. Test.

        September 4, 2019
    • ABSOLUTELY! Back when, my company had a customer that had religiously set up to back up their system to a tape drive.

      Unfortunately, whoever set up the auto-backup, they specified the E: drive as the one to be backed up. Which always had the Microsoft Encyclopedia CD in it.

      Obviously a simple test would have immediately kicked up a write error…

      (Those little old ladies – this was a small non-profit charity – sent me a HUGE box of cookies every Christmas for several years after I managed to untangle most of the mess made of their drive by going sector by sector and piecing things back together.)

      September 4, 2019
    • Jamie #

      Scrivener also lets you sync with Dropbox. From what I remember on their forum, Scrivener’s team said that DropBox is the only cloud storage that lets you sync properly when you’re going from desktop to laptop and back again.

      I occasionally have Scrivener create an archived (zipped) version that I upload to Amazon’s cloud; it’s my idea of version control. I think Amazon calls it Amazon Photos now; I guess that’s how most people use it. It’s 5GB of cloud storage for free.

      September 5, 2019
      • Jamie #

        I specifically mean sync properly with *Scrivener* files, not any other kind.

        September 5, 2019
      • I remain skeptical of cloud storage like Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive etc.

        Its nice and super convenient for sure, but there’s the business model to consider. Recall that when a service is “free”, it isn’t really free. It is offered to entice you to use it. That means you are the product for sale, not the customer of the service. Also, Apple and Microsoft are pushing their cloud services -really- hard, and that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

        Then there’s the fact that all this stuff runs off the same internet that will pwn a Win XP computer in -seconds- if it isn’t behind a firewall. Security isn’t.

        Finally, all your files are on someone elses computer. They don’t care if you lose all your files. Its a free service, remember? They have zero liability, you have 100% risk.

        Therefore even as a convenience I think its dodgy. As a backup, no way. As a facet in a backup program, still dodgy. Why do they want my business so bad? Because they’re scraping my files and photos for data to sell to advertisers, that’s why.

        September 5, 2019
        • The “free” onedrive is a loss-leader— they get you hooked, and then you hit the limit on space, and that with all the dozens of other things gets you to pay the sub. It’s the same format that most MMOs do– free up to level X, then you have to buy it and/or pay a sub. (For our household, it makes sense– my husband needs the Microsoft software for his job, anyways, the ‘household’ sub came with credit for five email accounts to use the tera storage each, and I buy the Military sub when it goes on Christmas sale.)

          Which, for Microsoft, then makes them a standard that your employees will be use to, and willing to use– their “Team” collab system, and the “free classes,” are all to get you to use their stuff so that there is zero training cost to employers. And, like I said, my husband needs it for his job anyways. (See also, the various free-to-schools-up-to-a-point programs, AND that they make a point of allowing Homeschools as well.)

          The are definitely not scraping information from your files to sell ads, because they very much want businesses to use them. You know who really gets upset when you ‘borrow’ their data? Yeah…. (They rewrote their TOS when it was pointed out something could be interpreted as giving them a right to use, rather than a right to make subscriber’s stuff available to the subscriber.)

          Then there’s the fact that all this stuff runs off the same internet that will pwn a Win XP computer in -seconds- if it isn’t behind a firewall. Security isn’t.

          *snort* It’s bad, but nowhere near that bad; there’s a REASON that there are still thousands of XP computers in use and connected to the internet in order to provide the nasty bot opportunity.

          It’s like driving around a vehicle on three tires and a flat. You can do it, it’s a rather bad idea, and almost anything a standard user is going to do is going to be an issue. But there are still folks for whom their use patterns make it a relatively small risk. (Usual starting point: they only turn on the computer when someone calls and says they sent an email.)-

          From memory, most of the zombie-XP machines are in use for things like running sonograms, which for some unknown reason were connected to the internet, and are basically never touched because the ONLY thing they do is use a tiny part of their system to do that one job.

          September 6, 2019
    • TRX #

      TRX’s Third Law of Computing:

      “Backups are nice, but only restores count.”

      September 5, 2019
  9. So I am in themiddle of searching for my kids’ travel songs.

    I know I had them in the music folder… it doesn’t agree.

    -.- Now seeing if it got backed up to the formerly-my-computer, or if it’s on the doornail computer, or what.

    September 4, 2019
  10. Stanley P Miller #

    A true NAS (Network Attached Storage) device can be fairly inexpensive, quick and easy to use and kept in a safer spot than your main computer. Add a small UPS and you are in good shape. These are just quick examples to get you started.

    WD 4 TerraByte $170 – https://smile.amazon.com/Cloud-Home-Personal-Storage-WDBVXC0040HWT-NESN/dp/B076CTK55W/ref=sr_1_9

    APC UPS 420 Watts $114 – https://smile.amazon.com/APC-Back-UPS-Battery-Protector-BR700G/dp/B002RCNX8K/ref=sr_1_24

    September 4, 2019
    • https://www.amazon.ca/NETGEAR-ReadyNAS-214-Diskless-RN21400/dp/B015S0Y50C?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duc12-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B015S0Y50C

      This is the one I got, it was on sale at the local guy for cheap. They make a 2 bay, that’s the one we have in the office. Works great, just sits there and does its job with no drama.

      Previously I had a 2 bay Synology, that one was quite slow and the software was a little flaky and hard to understand. I’m not a rocket surgeon, but I computer pretty good for a Boomer. If the interface and functions are hard for me to understand, that’s bad.

      September 5, 2019
      • TRX #

        > I computer pretty good for a Boomer

        Well, who invented PCs, after all…

        September 5, 2019
        • … and has been doing it since 1976…

          September 5, 2019
    • TonyT #

      Just remember, NAS is not backup (IOW, even if you back up to a mirrored NAS with a good file system like ZFS or btrfs, you still need to back up that NAS).

      And NAS reliability varies – RAID is not a good idea with TB HDD’s, and newer file systems like ZFS and btrfs are significantly more reliable than older ones.

      September 5, 2019
      • Stanley Miller #

        I was not recommending using a NAS for primary storage but as a backup for your primary storage. I’d not backup the NAS in that situation but would look at a second, off-site / cloud backup of the primary storage in addition to the NAS as others have suggested.

        Save to the primary storage as you go, save to the NAS when you take a break and to the off-site/cloud at the end of the day. That balances the time needed to backup against the likelihood of accident and pain of re-creating the data.

        Worrying about RAID and file systems is probably beyond the needs and skills of most, I set folks up with the defaults to make things as simple as possible if outside support is needed.

        September 5, 2019
        • TonyT #

          Bit rot can be a significant issue, especially with things like JPGs (I’ve seen it a number of times, including on flash drives), but less likely to be an issue with text. The better file systems handle it much better. And backing up bit rotted files doesn’t fix the bit rot.

          I prefer to spend a bit more money and time on a NAS that I know is setup for reliability (XigmaNAS or FreeNAS; I use mirrored drives, because it keeps it simple). Setup isn’t hard, but definitely is not an option for someone scared of tech.

          As always, what works best depends on your needs, priorities, etc.

          September 5, 2019
      • NAS is “backup” as compared to “archive” which requires optical storage. DVD ROM is about the only available storage technology you can trust to stay alive over the long term.

        I burn photos to DVD periodically, because you can put them in a shoebox and bequeath them to the next generation with some hope that they’ll be able to read them.

        It does give one pause, however, to consider that everything we write for ebook is completely dependent on a working Internet and a pretty demanding infrastructure. That’s why I still like dead tree books, they still work when the power goes off.

        September 5, 2019
  11. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Sometime ago, I started to use an external hard drive for “My Data”.

    IIRC it was because I thought that my PC had “too much data” so it was running slow.

    I also used an second external hard drive for backing up “My Data”.

    Then I started using UPS “Memory Sticks” for the Backups. Two “Memory Sticks” backed up twice a week.

    So when my first external hard-drive “just died”, I didn’t lose anything important.

    Currently, I’m using a “Memory Stick” for “My Data” and have two other “Memory Sticks” for my Tuesday & Friday Back-ups.

    September 4, 2019
  12. Ben Yalow #

    My first data failure was in 1967, when I dropped a deck of punch cards (with a program that I’d written) and hadn’t punched with sequence numbers in columns 73-80. It took a long time for me to re-sort that program, instead of the few minutes it would have taken if there were sequence numbers, since I could just have dumped the cards into a sorter.

    (I realize I’ve just spoken about incomprehensible technologies to most of the people on this thread — but, trust me, it was ugly).

    It taught me that backups are really very useful — and, while they take time and space, the tradeoff is often in favor of backups (although how often to take them is also a tradeoff).

    Currently, my backup scheme is likely to get me to losing, at most, a day’s work. And that includes what would happen if one of my backup devices (USB sticks, external hard drives, etc.) also fails.

    So far, I’ve been able to recover from most failures (and failures always happen), with the last major one happening when I was flying to Australia for a few weeks, and my laptop died over the Pacific on my flight down — and I really couldn’t be without it for the trip, since there were lots of programs I needed to be able to run, and data I needed to work with on it. I bought a cheap laptop in the duty-free store (smaller screen and disk, slower, and a lot more weight than my laptop), and spent the first day after getting to my hotel installing good-enough software from the backup sticks in my pocket, and building the data from those same backups. It wasn’t the exact environment I’d expected to work with — but it was good enough until I could get home, get my machine fixed (the hard drive had failed solidly), and rebuild the environment correctly.

    With the prices of external backup devices dropping, and capacities getting pretty large (fast 256G sticks are under $50), backups are cheaper and easier than ever.

    September 4, 2019
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      I regretfully say that I know all about programs on decks of punch-cards. 😉

      September 4, 2019
      • I managed to avoid those days… Mammals were beginning their ascendancy by the time I had my first loss. Back when floppies actually flopped.

        Since then, I have never had a loss of everything. The occasional file nailed when I was in a poverty stage and could not afford to replace the dead UPS, but never everything.

        Several two or three week periods of resuscitation work, though. However, I try to treat changing computers the same as when I changed lodgings – a good time to go through most of it and get rid of the accumulated “stuff.” At least some of it. (Last time around, I stumbled across a folder that had test data for a Paradox application I had written, oh, must have been fifteen years before then?)

        September 4, 2019
        • Ben Yalow #

          Really old files need to be updated, if they’re to still be useful.

          My oldest file is my “owned book” list, which dates back to 1967 as a deck of cards. It’s changed physical format lots of times (onto various mainframes, then onto 8″ floppy for CP/M, then onto PCs of various flavors). The software to maintain it has changed. But, since it was still useful, I migrated it, as necessary.

          But bits are cheap, and electrons are small. At this stage, I don’t bother to get rid of accumulated stuff — it’s not worth the time. It just sits there, in case I ever decide I need it again. And I keep converters around, so that when, last year, I needed a file from the early 80s in Wordstar format, I could still read it (old versions of WordPerfect can read Wordstar files, and output them as Word doc files – and, from there, it’s easy).

          A/V files are the hardest to migrate, since there were lots of different A/V formats in the 90s, and some of them are pretty unreadable now.

          September 5, 2019
      • TRX #

        You guys with punch cards… I started with paper tape.

        Paper tape wears out. And then it breaks.

        All the disadvantages and none of the fun of, say, 8-track tapes…

        September 5, 2019
        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

          LOL 😆

          The Junior College where I first learned Programming had us use punched cards for our programming but they also had those punched tapes things.

          Never used them but I knew they existed. 😀

          September 5, 2019
        • Ben Yalow #

          Agreed. I had paper tape/teletype on my PDP-8s. But I also had Dectape (which is about as redundant as anything — each track was written twice across the tape, so that you could, if you were lucky, correctly read a tape that had a physical hole in it, and not lose any data).

          September 5, 2019
  13. 23 skidoo

    September 5, 2019
  14. I worked for a tech support company back in the ’90s and got the whole ‘back up your files’ thing drummed into my head early. Then came the Great Computer Crash of 2006. All my writings were backed up like they should’ve been, so I only lost like a couple hours worth of story, but I hadn’t backed up any of my photos in a long time. Luckily, the computer support dudes managed to get a lot of my files back when they tried to resurrect my hard drive.

    And this post reminds me that I haven’t backed my pics up lately. Again. Derp.

    I back my books up every day I’ve worked on them by emailing the file to my gmail account. I do it every night or when I think I’m going to be away from the story for longer than 15-20 minutes. And I have two rotating USB drives. One for home and one set aside in our safety deposit box – in case of fire, tornado, etc.

    So glad to see you managed to get your data back. Yay!

    September 5, 2019
    • d #

      Oy. The tech knowing better and yet not doing backups enough.

      I missed the card programming, barely hit the teletype (one class). But came in when floppies were 5 1/4. Have seen 8″ floppies.

      Biggest failure, and I know the pictures were stored somewhere other than on the laptop, just haven’t been able to figure out which CD/DVD … Laptop stolen. Had all the pictures of our son’s Eagle Court of Honor. Was able to find the tape that was subsequently converted to digital.

      Not a picture taken since that isn’t backed up to external hard drive, first. Then copied to whatever laptops we are using at that time. Honestly. That is all I care about. Everything else, may be a PIA, but can be reconstructed another way. Well tax files. But filed versions are saved off as PDF’s. Actual TurboTax may be readable or not by current programs (likely not been using TurboTax since early ’90’s).

      Hubby’s learned the hard way about old file types not being able to be read. Again, PIA reconstructing what was in it, but doable. (Used an old program type until machine died, then that program was unable to install on newer Windows, and nothing current (ish), would read that file type).

      September 5, 2019
      • Ben Yalow #

        You might want to look at DOSBox — it’s a program that runs on current Windows (or Linux, or MacOS) that emulates the old PC/DOS environment. So a lot of old programs will run under it, assuming you have the old installation media.

        https://www.dosbox.com/

        September 5, 2019
      • TonyT #

        Virtual machines….if you can find the old OS installation disk, you could install it in a VM, and then install the software. I’m thinking about doing that to keep some old software running.

        September 5, 2019
        • d #

          Well, yea. If it hadn’t been golf scores …

          September 5, 2019
  15. I use a cloud storage solution for backups, and have all my computers linked to it. All my saves go to the cloud and then to the various drives on my computers. It’s not a perfect solution, but I’m protected against any single drive failure (something that’s already happened once). As others have said, it’s easier than ever to back up data these days, especially since a lot of software packages auto save (Scrivener, for instance).

    My stories of catastrophic data loss go back to the 1990s and my days in tech support. I have dozens of stories of clients who ignored our software’s prompts to perform data backups and then lost years of business critical data when their drive crashed. The conversation always involved a client explaining they never performed backups because they didn’t expect anything like this would happen.

    Save early, save often, folks.

    September 5, 2019
    • “The conversation always involved a client explaining they never performed backups because they didn’t expect anything like this would happen.”

      More like them yelling “But this can’t happen!!!” in between bouts of screaming at the technician to go faster.

      I used to be the technician. I quit that job. ~:D

      September 5, 2019
    • TRX #

      I had employers who said the same thing. Some of them had IT degrees, too.

      “You can’t fix stupid…”

      TRX’s Second Law of IT:
      “Uptime is like air. Nobody misses it until it’s gone.”

      September 5, 2019
      • d #

        First job out of getting my computer degree, hardware had a habit of failing when I was on vacation. I had process well documented, and my “backup” trained. Person whose job it was to deal with data. My department was a one person shop. My vacations, were (even if we’d had a cell back then) 800-dial-a-prayer, or 800-dial-a-tree. Both were equally effective.

        Last job. Worked there 12 years. Last time system went totally down, the boss was not happy, to say the least. Hey, it was his fault he didn’t allow IT to have hardware to plug failed hardware. Oh there was backups of the work and the data needed, just no hardware to put it on. Took IT, 10 days (including weekend) to get replacement hardware, everything installed, so 6 programmers/developers backup and working. Plus we were cutoff from email. Sure we could answer phones, but beyond the quick easy obvious stuff, clients were not getting support. Everything went through the network. Only the software development tools and any current project code was on workstations (and since everything failed over one weekend, by protocol, latter wasn’t even available). 6 programmers idled for 8 work days. No, boss was not happy. You could hear IT (2 of them) muttering about the lack of foresight, and a lot of “I told you so’s”. (Working at home wasn’t an option either because working at home involved using your hardware to remote in through the network via VPN, and working on your desktop.) In 12 years we were down like 4 times. But the other 3 weren’t hardware failures. They were virus issues which meant wiping and rebuilding everything but they didn’t have to get hardware in, I think we were down 2 or 3 days each.

        September 5, 2019
    • Only thing to add would be: make certain your off-site back-up storage places doesn’t claim the right to access and sell your files. *CoughG00gledocscough* All the more reason to rent your storage space, so you have more legal recourse if you need it.

      September 5, 2019
      • Ben Yalow #

        My offsite backup is just that — it’s a large external hard drive sitting in the filing cabinet of a friend who live 150 miles from here. And we swap it reasonably often with my local large external hard drive that’s a full backup for my system (and not the smaller backups that I keep on USB flash drives and SSDs that I keep next to the computer, or in my pocket whenever I leave the house).

        September 5, 2019
      • Yeah, the bit TXRed said about GDocs (and it’s associated stuff) is the only thing I could think of.

        Dunno much about Dropbox, as I haven’t used it in years.

        September 6, 2019
  16. Carrington Dixon #

    And remember that you external (USB) drive can break too. My last drive failure was an external. If your data are important, keep copies on two (or more) devices. Off-site is good, but never trust the only copy to the diligence of total stranger(s).

    September 5, 2019
  17. *reads file*
    *backs up WIP on USB*
    *reads comments*
    *wanders over to husband to ask about external hard drive.*

    September 5, 2019
    • TRX #

      You can configure most computers to boot off an external drive. If you get an external SSD the performance is adequate for most people.

      The trick is, if you ever have to bug out you just unplug the drive and stick it in a pocket. And when you get to a computer somewhere, you just plug it in, hit F12 (usually) when booting up, select “external USB device”, and boot *your* system, just like it was at home.

      (works fine with Linux. Might have licensing issues with Windows. No idea about fruity systems)

      September 5, 2019
      • Yeah, frequently traveling externals will also be at risk of damage, so there’s that to be aware of.

        September 6, 2019
      • snelson134 #

        Will 100% have licensing issues with Windows. I’m in the process of getting Oracle Cloud certification and they are very careful to remind people that while the cloud VMs based on Linux can be exported and used in different cloud instances Windows based VMs cannot “due to licensing issues.”

        September 7, 2019
      • Haven’t had to do that with a fruity system, yet, but I’m running LibreOffice on my work computer because of Office licensing PitAs.

        September 7, 2019
  18. Jamie #

    Back in the day I always just took out the bad drive and slaved it to a working drive, then copied the data. Then the motherboard connections changed so that you didn’t have to “slave” a drive anymore. Now I just put a bad drive in an external drive enclosure that has a USB cable at one end. With the cable I can plug the drive into a working computer, so that effectively the bad / old drive is just an external harddrive. Copy the data, done. External drive enclosures are cheap on Newegg.com (or Amazon, but I rarely remember Amazon for tech stuff).

    Currently I’m in the middle of building my own home server (I want to stream movies as well as do backups). But I’m stalled by what I believe is a dead-on-arrival motherboard. Joy. Time to bite the bullet and call tech support.

    Oh — do yourself a favor and get a UPS, that’s an uninterruptible power supply. Newegg had them on sale at Christmastime. If you ever have blackouts in your area — a series of intermittent blackouts last year obliged me to rebuild my computer — then the thing will pay for itself. The UPS can be set so that your computer and your NAS can shut down gracefully in the middle of a blackout. If you’re cloud-syncing (e.g., Scrivener with DropBox) then get a UPS that lets you hook up your modem, so you don’t lose the internet in the middle of a writing session.

    September 5, 2019
    • This is an excellent point!

      I’m on rural power here at Chez Phantom, we have voltage spikes and outages all the time. Every PC and the television have a UPS on them. If you run on wall current it will bake your power supply and motherboard. Zap! Found out the hard way, toasted PC.

      I even found the place in Ontario you can get new batteries for a dead UPS. Sayal Electronics. Rip out the old, drop in the new, Presto!

      September 5, 2019
  19. I share this, because it’s related to the topic, and I figure everyone can use a chuckle ^_^

    September 6, 2019

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