Monday, November 03, 2008

International Backup Day

I'm unilaterally declaring November the 3rd International Backup Day, or IBD for short. Grab a blank DVD, memory stick or removable hard drive and take a copy of your important files, right now. This is doubly important if you don't know how to do a backup, or have never bothered.

JA Konrath recently posted about various backup and restore methods, so head over there if you're uncertain about the whole concept of storing a copy of your data.

If you're not sure whether it's time to backup or not, consider this: If your PC died tomorrow, what would you lose?

You might like to post about IBD on your blog if you believe backing up is important.

Windows users: At the very least you should take a copy of your 'My Documents' folder - right-click on it, select properties and note how many gb it takes up. You'll need a memory stick at least 10-20% bigger than the total, so 3gb of files will require a 4gb stick or a blank DVD. 500 megs of files will fit onto a CD.

If you have a lot of data, I recommend an external USB hard drive. Just remember not to leave it connected to the power or the computer when not in use, or a lightning strike will take it out along with all your other gear. If you DO pick up a 500gb drive, don't waste all that room. Make folders called Jan-Dec and schedule a monthly backup into the relevant folder.

If funds are tight you can pick up an empty 3.5" USB hard drive enclosure and fit an old 10 or 20gb drive. That's equivalent to 20-40 DVDs, which is masses of room for the average user. If you have a huge collection of digital camera pics, consider how much you've saved on film and developing, and put a tiny portion of that cash towards a backup solution.

Personally I'm a backup freak, with a dedicated 200gb partition containing automatic daily, monthly and yearly snaphots of My Documents, two dozen external hard drives, backups on two completely different computers and a pocket full of memory sticks. But you don't have to go that far.

Finally, a free backup app you might find useful. (Windows only)

Official International Backup Day page

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend keeping your data on a separate partition (or drive) from your operating system. Then make sure you take an _image_ backup, to a second drive, of the OS partition so that you can do a full restore (usually takes about 10 or 15 minutes at most, even with a lot of apps installed on that OS) if you lose your drive (or upgrade to a bigger/newer drive).

I usually use versions of Norton Ghost for image backups but there are many other alternatives to that.

The data partition is best backed by direct duplication up to another partition on that second drive (I recommend using something like XXCOPY in a simple batch file/script for that).

Simon Haynes said...

I have a 10 gig partition on my second (750gb) drive mounted as C:\My Documents. I also have a 4gb partition just for the windows Swapfile on that second drive.

I use Paragon Drive Backup and Paragon Partition Manager for creating/moving/resizing/backing up.

I also use VSO software's assorted DVD tools for backing up - e.g. I have a batch file which creates and burns a DVD ISO of My Documents. Insert a blank disk, double-click, walk away. (The problem with programs like Nero is that they no longer seem to be able to accept a folder as an option - they save a file list, which doesn't account for changes. And backup progs often store files in their own weird archives which aren't compatible with anything else.)

Ben-M said...

I find email a useful backup technique. Although my writing gets backed up between a flash drive and the hard disk, the thought that an opportunist might walk off with my laptop or go rifling through my house while I'm out has me making these as an offsite alternative.

They won't care what's on those drives but I know I'll be beside myself if I lose months of work.

Flavius said...

I protect my files and emails with a very easy to use data backup software called Titan Backup, the destination is a 500gb WD harddisk, but the company stated that an online feature is under work also. Give it a free trial here.

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