Backing Up

I took the my main computer on the road with me, so I could enter changes by subject matter experts. It’s 9 year old laptop, so I backed up my data before I left, just in case. Mainly in case of me spilling coffee or dropping it.

The second day of the trip, I booted the laptop up… and instead of a login screen, I got a screenful of rainbow static snow.

This is being typed on Calmer Half’s travel laptop. Which looks like it might now be my new main computer. Sigh.

These things do happen. It’s a mechanical device, and nobody’s bleeding, broken, or dying. I’m not going to get that wrapped around the axle about it, especially not once I finally manage the learning curves for switching operating systems. It’s an opportunity to try something new, and is far more lightweight, twice the battery life…

If I don’t make up my mind to be bitter and resentful, I might even find I enjoy this more.

And my data was backed up, so I didn’t lose the finished first draft, nor the 30-odd chapters of the other WIP. That certainly helps ease the transition.

When’s the last time you backed up your data?

25 comments

  1. Most of my personal digital data I don’t really need. It’s old saved games and that sort of stuff, that I can get again.

    There are a few documents that I do use OneDrive to defacto sync across three or so computers, but that’s about it.

    On laptop replacements, if you don’t need graphics and are anywhere near a Microcenter, apparently they’ve ended up with a batch of 11.6″ Evolve III laptops that they’re selling for about $60.

    They’re basically education targeted, but they’re cheap, run Windows 10, and have a 64Gb hard drive so won’t jam like the HP Stream laptops did. I’m seriously debating going by there and picking one up for myself to replace my old Surface 3 tablet.

    1. Thank you for the suggestion. I have a children’s corner in the basement and that would be perfect for there. Low cost, fairly sturdy, and meant for kids.

  2. Being on a Mac I have Time Machine which allows me to do automatic backups of critical data as frequently as I want it to. I did have to add a one terabyte external drive to the mix, but those are getting ridiculously cheap these days.

  3. Being a retired IT consultant and lifetime geek, and therefore suitably paranoid, changes to my most important data are synched to onsite backups (local hard drives) several times a day, full backups twice a month, with a copy to a drive kept in a fireproof safe in my office and another kept offsite (in a fireproof safe in my daughter’s basement). I’ve always considered “The Cloud” just a euphemism for “somebody else’s computer” where they care less about my data than I do. As I said, paranoid, but based on 55 years’ experience. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    1. I militantly agree with your judgement on the “somebody else’s computer” judgement of the Holy Cloud.

      I’m a bit testy about it because there is a Cloud Worshiper in the Phantom’s extended family, despite said individual having had all their stuff wiped out by their cloud provider due to a misconfigured cloud instance. The answer from Provider was “too bad so sad, have you considered backing up your data?” This was a different instance than my own fall from Grace.

      Hence the elaborate overkill of the Phantom Backup Forces. I have seen this elephant and measured its tusks.

      1. Nod.

        Foxfier’s use of the Cloud to transfer data to other computers of hers seems OK but I don’t like the idea of using the Cloud as Back-Up.

    2. WRT “The Cloud”. If you don’t have physical control, you don’t have control.
      Somebody else has control on some server farm somewhere else.
      Bill does backups every Sunday.

  4. Oh, my – I’m religious about backing up anything I am working on, especially if it is a paid project. Everything that I have done in a session of work goes to a separate hard drive, and to an on-line private file. I used to do the same with a thumb drive, which I would take with me. This after having a computer crash over Christmas, with the first five chapters of the Adelsverein book on it, and no back-up. (Fortunately, my computer genius friend Dave was able to restore the computer and save the files.

  5. Backups at Chez Phantom are hourly. Because I’ve had to restore from backup, and it makes me cringe just thinking about how friggin’ lucky I was that time.

    The big NAS in the basement backs up all the PCs in the place hourly. The little backup NAS backs that up daily, it sits in a different building. I’m strongly considering adding an off-site NAS (at a remote, undisclosed location for maximum spookiness) for -Real Disaster- recovery.

    I have a thumbdrive on my keychain that I backup when I think about it, roughly everytime I re-name WIP for a version change. Version changes are every time I change something major, or for a new chapter. Redundant thumbdrives and etc. for that.

    Final graveyard backup is retired hard drives in a drawer. Contents are on the NAS, but the old drive is kept. Yes, bit rot is a thing, but these are text files after all, not a database or game file. A box of hard drives is a decent insurance policy, and the bandwidth for moving is excellent. ~:D

    I got out of the habit of using DVDs for backup when it was discovered that they really don’t last all that long, even in a box in the dark. Also they’re going out of style because 5 gigs capacity is too small to be that useful. None of my current machines have a built-in DVD drive, and using the external one is a pain. In another ten years DVDs will be the same as 5 1/4″ floppies and VHS tapes. Antiquities.

    OneDrive is a convenience, which I finally have given in and started using for when I go on the road. It is absolutely not a backup, and I try to make sure I don’t get complacent about it. Apple iCloud the same. All you need is an internet outage to cut you off from your current work in progress. Current WIP is saved to the local machine -and- OneDrive at the end of each writing session. I spend a lot of time and effort on my writing, I like to be sure that it isn’t going to vanish because some guy at Microsoft mis-configured a server and lost it all. (Yes, I know that the Holy Cloud is supposed to be invincible, I remain cautious. Some guy who isn’t me owns it, so I know he doesn’t care about my data as much as I do.)

    In conclusion, I’d just like to say redundancy is good, redundancy is good, redundancy is very very good. ~:D

  6. Everything goes on Onedrive, and I’ve got local computers that will sync up to my Onedrive every time they get turned on (making local backups) and when I’m messing with the files, I pull them out of onedrive, do it on a local computer, and then put the completed thing up.

    (avoiding accidentally deleting everything)

    Less worried about my writing than about the pictures.

  7. I back up to a second local hard drive every time I do any real amount of work. Couple clicks and under 30 seconds most of the time.

    I do a weekly backup to an external (not normally connected or powered on) USB drive weekly.

    I’m considering a cloud backup option but I’d encrypt the backup before sending it there, too much important and damaging information to trust to some overseas low-price admin looking to supplement their income.

    Also considering a remote directly accessed (no cloud link) NAS located at a friend’s place that I could do late nightly backups to. I’d host one here for them if they wanted it.

    I buy a lot of used computers, HP usually are in good supply on Amazon at great prices. You can find Dells too but I find them a lot more aggravating to use and administer.

  8. For my frequently-changed directories, then i back up to USB sticks that I keep in my pocket all the time (two of them, from different manufacturers). I also have rotating even and odd day USB sticks which keep about 10 generations of backups, and weekly backups (about 3 months worth), and monthly backups (about 5 years worth). And an offsite backup of everything that’s a few months old.

    For larger stuff, I have a network attached RAID drive. And I’ve got three large external spinning drives connected by USB to my backup desktop machine, with everything written to two out of the three drives, since they’re not RAIDed.

    When I’m on the road, I’ve downloaded everything I could possibly need for the trip to my laptop. But the master files are still sitting on my home desktop.

    1. That’s a man who knows how to secure his data!

      “Backups are important, but only restores count!” — old sysadmin adage

  9. > When’s the last time you backed up your data?

    Yesterday. I do it on weekends, unless I’m doing something important, when I back specific files up to a thumbdrive or two.

    I don’t trust any “backup” software, I just mount a big USB external drive and do “cp -avR” and let ‘er rip. I alternate between two backup drives. I’d have more, but the Nice Hardware Fairy hasn’t been cooperative.

    I think I mentioned this on Sarah’s blog, but G. Harry Stine lost a big chunk of a work-in-progress back in the 1980s. After that, he saved each chapter to multiple floppy disks, on the least-recently-used principle. He bragged that he hadn’t lost a single byte of data since.

    Harry died at his keyboard in 1997, working on his latest book. His wife found him when she went to tell him lunch was ready. She called a mutual friend to let him know; she told him that the dialog box on his screen said that his file had been saved to drive B:.

    Good work habits will help you all your life. And perhaps slightly beyond…

  10. I thought I left a reply… WPDE!

    Linux desktop, I use rsnapshot to back up twice a day, making daily, weekly and monthly backups on an external drive. Because of a previous fiasco, I also do a monthly backup on a second drive. Haven’t needed the safety backup, but the main backups get used from time to time.

    I save all the files in the home directories, plus files for packages that aren’t part of the standard distribution. Rsnapshot works on incremental changes, so if a file hasn’t been altered, the original version is linked to the current backup.

  11. The one advantage of Cloud is off-site backups. So depending on what/where/when, both on-site and off-site may be in order.

    Or, you know, if you want a remote system back up on at a friend’s house that’s subject to different natural disasters, get it set up now.

    1. ^^that^^

      The first backup fanatic I ever knew was truly awesome, for the time, in his system. Multiple formats, regular backups, etc.

      …his house burnt down.

  12. First backup – auto-copies to USB attached SSD
    2nd backup – auto copies to SugarSync cloud service
    3rd backup – script to copy to local RAID 6 NAS I run after closing all working files.

    2 is one, one is none, and “3 copies, 2 different arrays, 1 offsite” is the standard for the enterprise backup solutions I sell at work.

  13. I have a spare external drive on my computer that I use for a monthly backup. When I am writing a book, I put everything for the book, text files, word count spreadsheet, images spreadsheet, all images, all artist’s or mapmaker’s materials, and all digital research material, on its own dedicated 16MB flash drive that I back up regularly – every night once I get within two weeks of delivering the book. I do my writing on a desktop (for image processing), but have a laptop. Even if the desktop craters I have a spare computer. Once the book is delivered, I make a final copy of everything on the flash drive and put it in a box with the rest of them. (Flash drives are cheap enough. That way if I need to go back to the book, I have a backup even if the desktop catches fire.

    If I am traveling while working on the book the flash drive comes with me and I e-mail updates home every night.

    Paranoid? Not if they are really out to get you. As the saying goes good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.

  14. *sigh* I need to organize my files better. I think I may have permanently lost some old chat logs because I lost track of the folder they were in, but they might still be in an older backup…. I definitely need to straighten out the photos.

  15. I have one back-up hard-drive for each active computer (plus the stored back-ups for the dormant computer). I upload stuff into my off-site storage as well, on a regular basis, as well as when a major chunk of a project gets done. And I have the current WIP on a thumb drive that goes with me.

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