If you have gone this long without thinking seriously about a data backup strategy, I encourage you to read on to save your future self a lot of frustration and wasted time. There is no question that as more and more information gets recorded digitally, there is an increased possibility of loosing a lot of work in a heartbeat. Chances are that if you’ve ever experienced catastrophic data loss, you have given this a lot of thought but sadly you are in the minority on this.
I think that a lot of people don’t take the time to implement a backup system and just hope nothing ever happens to them. This is not the way I like to operate, but I admit that in a lot of ways I am in the same boat.
What Options are available?
Sorry if you thought that I had the ONE magic solution, but there are so many different ways of backing up your data that one simple post could not even scratch the surface. Rather than focus on specific pieces of software, I wanted to give you some idea of the different types of backup and why you might choose on over the other.
How Valuable is your time?
Regardless of how you backup your data, recovering it isn’t as easy as pressing a button. Let’s think about complete hard drive failure. Imagine that your computer won’t even start up and the hard drive is toast. Aside from all the files stored on your machine, how long would it take you to get up and running again just loading all the software and drivers you need to do your job. Remember that while you are playing around getting your computer back in operation, you can’t exactly get any productive work done. This is even more evident if you are like me and rely on a laptop for programming systems on client’s sites. If my laptop went down, even if I had all the data, it would put me out of commission for at least a day to get everything loaded again. For a power user like myself, the best solution is one that provides a “bare metal” restore. I am currently searching out a good solution, but I want a system that can restore my hard drive onto a completely new laptop…just in case. (For those interested, I’m currently investigating http://clonezilla.org which is open source and does bare metal restores, but at this time does not to incremental backups)
How technical are you?
A lot of people have trouble navigating a file structure and advanced concepts like file versions are lost on them. This actually creates a ripe data loss opportunity as different versions of documents or files get passes around and are randomly updated. For this type of user, a system that stored incremental backups with built in versioning could be a good choice.
How forgetful are you?
We all forget to backup. The best solutions automate this task for us and rather than backing up every single file on your system every single time, they do incremental backups based on what has changed. This doesn’t take a lot of time, but keeps the recent changes safely backed up.
Think for a minute about data backup, and really consider what you could loose in a worst case scenario. Then get something in place. Even a bad plan poorly executed is better than a great plan that never gets implemented.
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