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One Of The Best Ways To Spend $79.95.

No one thinks it will happen to them – a complete computer crash. In fact, knock on wood, it has never happened to me…yet. But someday, it probably will. Years ago I started backing up my computers once a week, so if it did happen the most I could lose would be a single week’s worth of data. In the grand scheme of things, that wouldn’t be so bad. However, my mom had not been backing up her computer for the last 2 years…and it died on her. Everything she had on there, from family pictures to stories she was writing, were lost forever. She took it somewhere to see if they could recover anything, but it was a total loss. And it could have all been saved if she had only followed my instructions to back her stuff up often! There really isn’t any excuse anymore to not back up your computer, as external hard drives were way more expensive a few years ago but now a tiny, portable 320 GB drive is only about $79.95. 320 GB should be large enough for 99% of people, as it’s plenty for me and I have hours of video footage stored on my computer, which take up a ton of space.

I use a backup program that checks everything on the external drive against what is on the computer, and only updates the files that have changed. It normally takes about 15 minutes for it to run every Tuesday, and then I unplug the drive and store it in a drawer. I did try several of those off-site backup companies, but with the amount of data I have it was taking 12 hours to send a backup every week – not a very effective use of time. And while I could still lose my data if my house burned down, well, that would probably be the least of my problems at that point!

Anyway, after my mom lost everything on her computer, I have made it my priority to tell everyone I know to do backups and do them regularly. She was devastated at the loss, and hopefully people can learn from her mistake. It can happen at any time and without warning, so make sure you invest a little bit of cash in making sure your data is backed up and safe. I cannot recommend it enough!

Have you ever had a data loss because you didn’t back up? What kind of system do you use now? Let us know so we can all learn!


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Comments (12)

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  1. Miranda says:

    Thanks for this great reminder! I only back my stuff up sporadically. Now I think I’ll go get an external hard drive and do it right.

  2. A good reminder for non-techies. Thanks! I have a pretty significant infrastructure at home and one of my servers handles backups. Sometimes I forget that other people aren’t as computer-addicted as me. 😀 Now I’m off to check that my server is actually doing the backups it claims to be making…

  3. Jennifer says:

    Great reminder. My laptop was stolen during a home break-in. Police were able to recover it within 24 hours, but by then it had been dropped at least once. Had to take it to Geek Squad and they recovered my data. Otherwise a potentially devastating loss of files and photos. Now I back up religiously. Definitely a lesson learned.

  4. Justin says:

    What backup software do you use/recommend. Thanks….love your blog.

  5. david says:

    I use Super Duper, which is for Macs.

  6. Tyler says:

    Good point. Most people think “I have all of my CDs / DVDs that I’ve copied to my computer, so no worries,” until they think of the dozens of hours it will take to recopy all that data.

  7. Glenn says:

    I use Carbonite. I’ve had good luck with it. Used it once to restore files after my computer bombed.

  8. Enrique S says:

    I’ve got 2 passport drives, a 60GB and an 80GB. I backup my PC to both drives once a week. I do the two backups because I’ve lost data on a backup in the past, and I just like to make sure. My backup isn’t automated, as I have to fight for computer time with my kids.

  9. Dan says:

    A much less expensive way would be to have your disk divided into multiple partitions. When a disk fails, typically it’s one small area that fails. If your disk is divided into multiple partitions, only the data on that partition is lost, and even then, there is software that could probably recover most of it. Everything else that’s stored in other partitions is still accessible. Further, you can create backup partitions on the disk to store the data, rather than using an external drive.

    Also, get a second opinion on your mom’s hard drive. Unless it’s been dissolved in hydrochloric acid, there are ways of recovering her data. Just depends on how much you’re willing to spend.

  10. Mike says:

    Another alternative is Mozy. There’s a free 2GB limit or a small monthly fee for unlimited. I’ve gotten my parents on it and use it myself. I don’t have to worry about important documents and things if something crashes AND it means no worries if someone steals my computer or the apartment burns. I could/should pay the fee and protect everything else, too.

  11. david says:

    Very true. I did try them, but after waiting over 12 hours for my computer to backup (and only being 40% finished) I canceled my account.

  12. abbas says:

    Can anybody suggest a good offline backup tool for Windows Vista?

    Offline as in something that backs-up to an external hard disk – same scenario as David, but on Windows. Carbonite seems to only work with online backups.

    cheers!

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