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Backing Up

Guest Dabeagle

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Guest Dabeagle

I've burned things to disc or moved folders to flash drives for safe keeping (then lose the drive) and I'm wondering what backup methods others use? I like the idea of a remote backup, in case of catastrophic failure, but some things (like Google Docs) which sound good, are open to their own snooping or sharing after a period of time.

Not that anyone will ever get rich - or make a thin dime - from what I write, but it's mine.

What say you?

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Lotsa drives. I try to operate on Peter Krogh's 3-2-1 Backup Rule: 3 copies of your data, stored on 2 separate kinds of media, with 1 stored off-site (out of your house). I still get screwed every so often by losing a file here or there, but not too frequently. Heck, I misplace more CDs than that in my collection, year to year.

As the old saying goes: if you don't own at least 3 copies of your data, you don't own your data.

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I'm not very sophisticated when it comes to computers--which probably means I'm more prone to disaster. I backup on an external drive that lives on my keyring and will go with me if I have to go out of my window. And, since I'm a geezer, I have hard copy on paper of everything I write.

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Paper is good! Whenever I'm working on a new story, I always print up each chapter as I finish and do my editing on paper. Once I'm finished, I go back to the word processor and make the changes as necessary. Then I toss the paper copy into a box. At the end, I usually have one printed copy of the novel. One hopes that, even in the event of nuclear disaster, I'd still be able to scan the paper and get most of the novel back.

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I have a printed copy of everything I've done. It's easier to be proud of a bunch of three-ring binders than it is of a bunch of memory sticks.

There was a time I would've pooh-poohed you, but I gotta say, paper never crashes. And you figure if there's a big fire, hell, both paper and hard drives will burn!

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Consider me a purveyor of doom for a moment. I fix computers and networks for a living. So:

CD-Rs and DVD-Rs degrade over time. The plastic layer pulls away from the metal, and they become unreadable. It's a natural process and not stoppable. I trust them for a life of about two years before they get untrustable. If this is your method of backing up files, get in the habit of copying your old CDs to new media once in a while.

Flash drives also degrade. There is a property in the silicon used to make them that limits the number of reads and writes they can do, and I get regular calls about flash drives that suddenly think they need to be formatted.

External hard drives can and do fail. Especially when they are in constant use. Western Digital has a bad rep with me for this, their "mybook" drives might as well be called "nobook". Hive had good luck with Seagate drives - look for the ones with the 5 year warranty.

But my main point - it sounds like y'all are backing up your data, and not the complete PC or Mac. How many of you have or know where to find your windows product key? Or your Office product key? Do you have the original install discs? did you go through the process of creating them when you got the PC? I bet you burned them to those flaky CDs...

External hard drives are cheap. One simple process of setting up Windows Backup or Apple's Time Machine can give you the ability to fully backup and restore the entire machine. Both run on a schedule and are very fast. Out of the box, Time Machine runs a backup every hour. Windows can be set up to do the same thing. These are "bit" level backups and take about two minutes to run. One of the big advantages: you can restore to any hour you want. Wreck a file at four pm, restore it to the 2 pm version, or yesterday's, or whatever.

Or the worst case: your hard drive dies completely - the dreaded INACCESSIBLE BOOT DEVICE error and that awful clicking sound of a bad drive. What now? Get a replacement drive of the same or bigger size, restore the system image from backup, and you're up and running in an hour or two.

The biggest time sink in the world, to me, is attempting to get recovery disks for a PC with a bad hard drive, then reinstalling Windows, then all the updates, then installing all the apps, and then restoring the data. It takes hours, and for (literally) about a hundred bucks and an hour of setup, it can be completely avoided.

If you're not inclined to set up backups to run, then consider using a cloud service like Carbonite that does the backups for you.

Oh, and yeah, all you writers: PRINT A COPY.

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Anyone who's lived through vinyl going from 78 rpm to 45 rpm to 33 rpm, then 8 tracks and then CDs, not to mention Beta and VHS and now both are defunct can value words on paper. The format never changes.

I have a massive music collection -- literally over 10,000 CDs and more records and tapes than I can count -- and I've archived a vast amount of them to hard drive. I figure, if the next quake hits, I can't take the CDs with me when we're running out of the collapsing house, but I can grab a couple of hard drives. So it's nice to know that, assuming we'll eventually have power and things will go back to normal, I can rescue most (but not all) of my music.

I decided some years back I don't care what the music comes from as long as it sounds good. So lossless files on a music server works fine to me. The ease of having hundreds of thousands of songs at my fingertips is very seductive. I can pull up any song in less than five seconds, vs. having to wander over to the shelf, scan hundreds of CD titles, find the one I want, take it out, put it in the player, and cue up the song. Instant gratification trumps everything.

But... I'm a big believer in backups, and I do have 3 copies of every drive.

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I encrypt my story files and my web files. I have them on my desktop both the original work files (not encrypted) and the encrypted copies. I copy them to my laptop, to an external hard drive, and upload them to the cloud. The encryption and password I use is very strong. It would take somebody more time than it's worth to decrypt them; it would be easier to find my files on Codey's World and AwesomeDude and copy them from there.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Bah, I don't encrypt anything. I just keep good track of it. The problem with encryption schemes is it's one more issue to deal with if the drive gets corrupted. I'd rather leave the files as-is so that the recovery software I have can deal with a conventional structure and known file types. There's nothing I deal with in my life that's so secret I can't just leave it on my regular computer inside my house. If some dastardly villain gets that far in my life, there's far worse they could do beyond looking at my hard drive. I'm not paranoid about stuff this trivial.

I don't have a problem with writers who make backup copies and keep another copy in the Cloud. There's a zillion services out there, and those are fairly safe. At least this way, if the bomb went off, your work would still exist "somewhere" out there, provided you survive to get back to it at some point.

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I'm about to have to replace my primary hard drive.

It's a pain in the rear and there's a lot of other things I should be doing but hard drives just aren't forever.

I use a bunch of USB drives to back up my files. I replace them and add to them fairly regularly so that I have four 1TB+ drives I can count on and my data is backed up on them.

I have a drive ordered and expect to be back by end of the week. :alien[1]:

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There's a lot of conflicting information about the life and reliability of SSD's. For example, I read on one SSD site that you should not power down your PC because the startup process on an SSD will shorten it's lifetime. On a different SSD site they said to always power down your PC because keeping the drive on will shorten it's lifetime. I don't have an SSD (yet) so I don't know which is true or if they both are BS. I say go to the website for your SSD's manufacturer and read what they have to say and follow it.

Colin :icon_geek:

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