Backups and the real world

A hilarious excerpt from a recent article over at “Merlin Mann’s”:

bq. I realize I’m asking you to buy a _lot_ of hard drives here. Can’t change that, but I will say I’ve been very satisfied with “1TB Seagate Barracudas”: from “New Egg”: (Personally, I buy them five at a time and always have at least 3 spares).

What’s hilarious is that Mann thinks some mere mortal is going to go out and buy a collection of flash drives and enough hard drives to keep 3 spares. {record scratch} Yes, _three_ spares. There’s a good message in here though. You have to have a really, really good backup strategy if you expect to make use of the results of said strategy. Meanwhile, back in the real world…

I might as well jump on the “bandwagon”: and harp on the backup issue. I’m a pretty big nerd, but my view on backups is simple: something is better than nothing. It’s a pragmatist’s viewpoint, and I think that’s ok. Lots of decisions we make every day put pragmatism before perfection. A pragmatist says, “If I can get 80% of the benefit out of the first 10% of the effort, then why would I expend the additional effort for such a tiny return?” Even a pragmatic backup is better than most people’s strategy of, well, _nothing at all_.

My personal backup strategy is simple, I use the built-in “Time Machine backup”: provided by OS X. Time Machine is the simplest, most pain-free versioned backup system I’ve ever used. Lately, I’ve considered adding an additional layer of insurance to my backup strategy. I’ve only considered this because the solution satisfies two of the pragmatists most respected metrics: low-price, low-effort. Two companies (and “probably more”: that I know and trust offer unlimited, automated, online backup for the very reasonable price of $55/year. “Mozy”: and “Carbonite”: offer products that have near feature parity. Carbonite offers “Web Restore”, which lets you restore files without installing any local software, but this is a minor point in my mind. If you’re looking to move data around easily between disparate locations, use “DropBox”: instead. DropBox is awesome, but it gets expensive as a backup strategy if you’re working with large sets of data like your photo or MP3 library.

For $55 a year and 30 minutes of setup effort, why would I not add this additional layer of security to my backup strategy? Even better, why would _you_ not do the same? Even if you have no backup strategy whatsoever, you should do this. Today. Now. Yeah, do it now. It will satisfy the pragmatist and the nerd in you.

3 thoughts on “Backups and the real world

  1. Really? “Hilarious?”

    Well, first, I own, use, or administer 5 Macs, 2 Drobos, and 3 1-TB external drives. That’s *18 HDDs* that will die at some point. To my mind, keeping three spare drives on hand hardly makes me Thurston Howell III.

    Second, in the real world *I* live in, you invest what you have to in order to secure your (and your family’s and clients’) data. Because, if your extant body of work (or photos or home movies or what have you) dies as a result of not wanting to spend US$89/drive, you’re going to be living in a real world that is, in my experience, not particularly hilarious at all.

    To this mere mortal—who’s lost it all at least half a dozen times—that’s chump change if it means all the stuff I’m responsible for stays safe, secure, and alive.

  2. I’m not talking about expense as much as I am expertise. I guess I have to consider your audience. I’m not sure anyone who administers 5 computers (Macs or PCs) could be considered a ‘mere mortal’ in the world of computer users. Nor do I think your audience is composed of people who would have any problem swapping drives to and fro while using a Drobo. My mom, on the other hand, would choke the first time she saw the shinny exterior of a hard drive.

  3. Thanks for the comment by the way. I’m just getting started with my blog. Kind of regret that my first interaction with an a-list blogger comes on the heels of what some might consider trolling, but I guess any visitors are good visitors :-)

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