Friday, May 15, 2009

Back Up or Be Stupid - your choice

One of my hobbies is flight simulation, and persuant to that, I've been reading the Avsim flight sim community web site for well over ten years. The URL is, but as I'm typing this at about 5PM PDT on Friday, the site is dead and gone.

It's gained that unenviable status because some, uh, (gotta watch my language here) nefarious, lowlife, twisted, gin'd up, lilly-livered, one-eyed son of a prarie dog (a.k.a. hacker) managed to bring down not one but both of their servers. The problem is that apparently the administrators of that site were using these systems to back each other up, and the hacker deleted the main partitions on the hard drives of both. I don't want to opine whether or not their backup "strategy" was a dumb one - although more than a few Avsim subscribers have already done so (and I do question why they didn't have an off-site master backup somewhere) - but it brings home in a dramatic and tragic way that we all really need to back up our important data. You know that, I know that, we all know that, but the fact is that probably every minute of the day someone somewhere loses data that is precious and irreplaceable, yet gone forever.

Now, my own backup strategy is fairly lame - periodically, I back up my most important data on this (home office) system to a USB memory stick, and less periodically I duplicate that stick's contents to another one, and keep that second stick "somewhere else" (e.g. in my car) just in case the house burns down. However - and it's really embarrassing to admit this - but at this moment all of my memory sticks are in the house "somewhere" (I think I know where they all are). So if this great old house that we live in (that still has some knob-and-tube wiring) burns up, I'm S.O.L. I guess I know what I'll be doing tomorrow...

So maybe I'm writing this as much to myself as to you, but at any rate, here's yet another reminder to make a copy of your really important Data Stuff.

Here's an idea: go to your favorite big-box warehouse - e.g. Costco - and buy one of those 2-packs of 4GB SanDisk (or whatever) USB flash drives. Back up everything that you care about onto one (assuming it will all fit), and then do a direct copy of everything on that drive to the other one. Keep the second one at your office, in your glovebox, whatever - just somewhere else than the first one. Voila! with that $40-ish investment and a little time, you'll probably be better off than you are right now.

Another idea, which I have not yet tried but sounds like a hella good deal, is to use a web-based backup service. One that I'm aware of,, backs up as much data as you can throw at it (from a single hard drive, anyway) for about $5 a month, and via a background process keeps the backed up data "sync'd" with any changes you make on your computer. There are at least a few other, similar companies - just google "remote backup" for more information.

1 comment:

  1. That's very good advice. I have a remote drive that I use to back up my main hard drive, but it's in the same room, so it won't protect from a house failure mode like fire.

    For that, I have pushed a lot my most important stuff up to my Apple MobileMe account. That account comes with enough storage to save the stuff I care about most.