Why You Should Have Redundant Backups of Your Computer Data

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You may have noticed that there was no new article on The Internet Patrol yesterday.

That’s because my hard drive crashed, which meant that a) I had no way to write and post an article, and b) I spent all day dealing with a dead computer.

Long-time readers will remember that the same thing happened to me last year, and may wonder if I’d learned my lesson.

You bet I did.

And now I’m going to talk to you about why you need a redundant backup system, with a portable backup device as well as an online backup solution.

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But before I go into that, let me ask you this: What impact would it have on you if your own personal computer suddenly went up in flames. Or, lost its hard drive.

Or imagine you woke up this morning – and your computer had just vanished.

What would be the impact on your work or personal routine? What would be the impact on your productivity?

These aren’t rhetorical questions – I actually want you to answer them, in the comment section below.

If you use your computer for work – think about the time lost. If you lose a whole day or more to dealing with the loss of your computer and all your data, what does that do to your schedule?

So, let’s assume now that you understand and realize the importance of not having your computer just suddenly go on vacation.

That leads us to the importance of making regular backups. And I mean regular backups.

This was driven home to me during that incident last year, when my own hard drive crashed while I was on a business trip, and I didn’t have any current backups. First, I had no backup with me (because I was on a trip), but I also didn’t have any really current backups anywhere.

That was the first and last time that has happened to me. Because now I’m zealous about backing up my computer. In fact, I have a redundant backup system, so that if one backup device fails, I still have a current backup of all of my data.

My redundant backup system includes backing up to a network hard drive, backing up to my Amazon S3 account (so that even if my office or house burned down, and all my computers were turned into worthless lumps of twisted metal and plastic <sniffle>, my data would be safe), and, backing up to my iPod Video so that I have a backup with me wherever I go. (Note: This article was written in 2008; I no longer use Amazon S3 because of incidents like this one. Remember, the “cloud” is just a word for somebody else’s computer.)

I do a full backup to both the network hard drive and S3, and I back up all of my critical documents, email, and settings (but not pictures or music) to the iPod.

Fast forward to yesterday.

My hard drive crashed. Which, again, is why I couldn’t post an article here yesterday. Because I spent the entire day at the Apple store, where they tried to resuscitate my hard drive.

Which they couldn’t.

So they installed a new hard drive (thank you Apple Boulder, you guys rock!)

Which meant that all of my data was gone.

Now, when this happened to me last year, I was stressed beyond belief. This time, however, while I was stressed about losing a full day of work, I wasn’t at all stressed about my data. Because, I had my backups. And I knew they were current, and I knew that even if one of my backup devices somehow failed for some reason, I have redundant backups.

So all of my data wasn’t really gone.

As soon as I got back to the office I plugged in my iPod and restored my hard drive from it, and within an hour I had all of my email and documents back – it was as if nothing had ever happened. Overnight I did a full restore from my network drive.

Now, here’s the thing; even though I had learned a good lesson last year, and so I was fully prepared with the backups this year, I still learned a valuable lesson this year. Because, I lost a full day of work, and these days when that happens unplanned, it’s nearly catastrophic. Catching up is darned near impossible, and, of course, I can’t write and post an article for all of you here.

So here is the lesson that I learned this year:

This year, when I left the Apple store with my new hard drive, I also had a brand new laptop under my arm. Yes, I now have not only redundant backups, but redundant computers. Next time (and realistically there will be a next time as, hey, failures happen), when my hard drive fails, I will simply do a restore of the most current backup to the backup laptop, so that I won’t lose more than an hour (instead of at least a whole day) while my primary computer is out of commission.

I only wish I’d thought of this last year. Then you wouldn’t have had to do without a new article at the Internet Patrol yesterday.

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One thought on “Why You Should Have Redundant Backups of Your Computer Data

  1. The impact? I’m experiencing it now — my laptop’s hard drive crashed almost three weeks ago. No business loss, since all my laptop usage was personal (fiction writing, hobby photoediting). But it put a a serious cramp in my routine. I have bills to pay before replacing the laptop, but I’m definitely replacing it ASAP. Fortunately, the vast majority of my creative output was saved to a different drive, so once I replace the computer I will still be able to access my work. But then I still need to arrange a backup routine for that

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