Back it Up, Check it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without

I suffered from a computer problem. No, I’m not talking about Computer Users anonymous (although if there was such a thing Fiona would freely admit me), I’m talking about the BSOD, Blue Screen of Death! I had a wake up call that could have been a lot more serious than it was. Don’t get me wrong, there were still casualties that couldn’t be recovered — Cousin Niki, I had 4 Gigs of video from your wedding that are still in a zip file on my backup drive that I haven’t been able to recover…I’m really, really sorry…and ‘Melodious NeverSeeYouAnymore-ious’, gone are your your TV recordings of So You Think You Can Dance and The Notebook…I didn’t try very hard to save them…sorry, but to a lesser extent.

Computer FailureMy “backup” external hard drive wasn’t exempt from the BSOD fury either. I say ‘backup’ because I commited a cardinal sin of having a backup drive and fell prey to the vast tracts of space that it offered and used those tracts for my recorded TV shows. I ended up saving what I could, wiping the rest, reinstalling Windows, and then taking it in to the nice people at Computer Lane (crummy website, good service) to discover it was actually my RAM that had failed, but that it had obvious effects on the hard drives. Great excuse to get a new 1GB stick of RAM (and Best Buy was the cheapest, what will this world come to next?)

Here are some things that anyone with a computer should be do.

  1. Run CheckDisk and Defrag often
  2. Have multiple backups
  3. Have an off-site backup

1 — Run checkdisk and defrag often. Okay, I’m really not sure that this will help a whole lot, but it definitely can’t hurt the overall health of your hard drive. Vista has an option to schedule defrag built in. With XP I’m told you can put defrag in a scheduler and have it done that way. I usually run it 2-4 times a month.

2 — Have multiple backups, especially of non-replaceable data like home videos, photos, and school/work projects. Those were the first things that made me sick to my stomach– wedding/birth/family videos, pictures of family (like grandparents not alive), and old photographs that have been scanned and digitized and I may have the only digital copies. Multiple means at least two, preferably 3 or even 4 isn’t neccesarily overdoing it. With as reletively cheap as hard drives are, external and otherwise, there’s no reason not to have at least one. Keeping it connected to the computer is okay too for automated backups. But what if the worst happens and the computer is detroyed in a fire or flood?

3 — Have an off-site backup. This never really crossed my mind because, being fairly young, I’m still invincible and that invincibility is obviously passed on to my electronics, rights? Maybe not. There’s several options here and more if you have nerdy friends that want to back up your stuff in exchange for backup up theirs. Although I do have very nerdy friends (thanks for the loan of one of your many extra hard drives Mark) I’ve been looking at Mozy and Carbonite. Both have pros and cons but I think I’ll end up going with Mozy for many reasons: I’ve heard great things about them, they’re local (in Utah, awesome billboard), they offer 2GB free storage (and I like companies that do stuff like that), I can pay monthly, and they have a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality to data backup. Carbonite looks like an excellent choice as well and is quite comparable and slightly cheaper, but I don’t want my data to suffer possible hibernation sickness. Mozy and Carbonite are $60 and $50 a year respectively with slight price breaks with Mozy for paying upfront for a year.

And for the record…even with my limited backups, it’s taken well over a week to get things up and going again. What do you do to backup? Share your experiences!

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2 thoughts on “Back it Up, Check it Out, Make it Do, Or Do Without

  1. I have been using Mozy for just over a year now and it has been a great thing to have. I had a hard drive die on me and between my local backup and the Mozy backup I recovered 100% of all my files. If you have any .exe files that need backed up go with Mozy. Carbonite did not backup .exe files when I checked them out before I went with Mozy. If you do go with Mozy check my blog for the latest promo code. You can save an additional 10% usually on top of the discount for paying for a year or more at a time. Hope to have a new code this week.

  2. There are a lot of ways you can balance how you backup your data. I agree that you should have a backup strategy and you are absolutely right that data should be stored online (at least the most important stuff) and the rest can be stored to an external hard drive, iPod, USB drive, etc.

    My company, Memeo, has a backup tool that will automatically backup your data to both an online storage site and an external hard drive, USB drive, iPod, FTP site, Network drive, etc. Also, if you are concerned about remembering to backup regularly our software has a unique feature that will instantaneously backup your files without any prompting. So the moment you save/modify/add a file it is backed up to any destination you like

    You should check us out before you commit to Mozy. All the major hard drive manufacturers rely on us to provide their customers with backup software.

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