Tag Archives: personal computing

Backups and the real world

A hilarious excerpt from a recent article over at “Merlin Mann’s 43Folders.com”:http://www.43folders.com/2010/03/15/yes-another-backup-lecture:

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”:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148433 from “New Egg”:http://www.newegg.com/ (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”:http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/01/whats-your-backup-strategy.html 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”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/time-machine.html provided by OS X. Time Machine is the simplest, most pain-free versioned backup system I’ve ever used.┬áLately, 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”:http://www.google.com/search?q=online+backup) that I know and trust offer unlimited, automated, online backup for the very reasonable price of $55/year. “Mozy”:https://mozy.com/home and “Carbonite”:https://www.carbonite.com/ 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”:https://www.dropbox.com/ 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.