Friday, March 14, 2008

Fridays with John: Back it up

Those of you who've been reading for a while may remember that we had a miserable hard drive crash last year. Full-on disaster was averted, but at no small cost. We sent our hard drive to Drive Savers in California and after a week of electronic surgery we got almost all of our data back. Since this happened to us we've learned that the possibility of a hard drive crash is really not an "if," but rather a "when" reality. And when your work--and to some small extent, your life--relies upon this stuff, it quickly becomes an unnecessary risk.

So after the hard drive fallout, Liz and I both got external hard drives for our computers. We started backing up some of our most important files one-by-one. This was a good start, but the easy solution I was hoping for. My computer is organized a bit like my desk. The most important things are well-filed and accounted for, but between clean-ups little piles appear (or miscellaneous folders in my computer's case). What's in these piles (or folders) may or may not be immediately needed, but that doesn't mean they can be forgotten.

What I needed was a simple solution to create mirror images of our computers on these external hard drives, and (for Mac users) I've found it. I know the same options are available for PCs, but for Macs, SuperDuper! is a perfect solution. All you need is a second hard drive or hard drive partition that's at least the size of the occupied space on your computer's local hard drive. The software was very easy to use and best of all it's FREE. I bought the $30 version which allows for scheduled backups and "smart updates" which only copy over your new or updated files since your last backup. This saves a lot of time, as duplicating the full hard drive will take at least an hour. Either way, I highly recommend it. PC users may want to try something like this. As far as external hard drives, I suggest you look at Lacie.

I, and anyone who's experienced the same headaches, can promise it's an investment you won't ever regret.

Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Don't forget about Time Machine! It is built into the newest Mac OS Leopard (10.5) and automates backups each hour.

This is in my opinion the best and easiest way to back up. I always have a SuperDuper! backup on hand as well so I have to agree with you there, but Time Machine is definitely something to keep in mind and that alone makes the investment of 10.5 worth it! You can go back on multiple copies of each file and pull back only what you need and see it visually.