This is a Public Service Announcement. Back Up your Computer Hard Drive!
In the last month we managed to fry two hard drives on my wife’s macbook. The first one lasted a year and a half and suddenly stopped working and after getting it replaced (fortunately under warranty) the replacement fizzled out just a month later (right after we’d reconfigured everything the way we liked it). Fortunately, neither of us are in school anymore and so nothing immediately essential was lost. I’ve also backed up our music files recently enough that we didn’t lose much, expect for a years worth of Photobooth photos, which is quite sad. The moral of the story is back up your hard drive. Here’s a few more stories to solidify the point.
My laptop fizzled out in November, I had the good fortune of being able to pull out the functional hard drive, but it was a close call for a lot of photos of my beautiful one year old. Some friends of ours had their laptop stolen which did have the only copies of almost all the photos of their one year old on it. That’s a lot of memories just gone. Another friend, a Phd student writing her disertation, had her laptops hard drive crash on her. Hopefully an expensive recovery service will be able to get her data back. The lesson: Back up your data.
We use computers and digital media for everything these days, primarily things we value highly like photos and documents and things of high value (like music). Having some close calls with our own data and hearing some horror stories from others reminded me to get on the Backup Bandwagon. I’ll let you know what I’m doing and I’d encourage you to do something similar. Below are the steps I’ve taken to keep things in working, backed up and syncronized order.
- I’ve backed up our music and photos on DVD. This is mostly our older photos and music. With the amount of photos we take and the file sizes these days this isn’t a very feasible option to stay on top of, but it is a good idea.
- I purchased a flickr.com account. There are a lot of benefits to remote storage. It’s online which means it can’t be stolen or destroyed (in a system crash or house fire or something). And I don’t have to pay to power another drive to keep my photos continual synced there. This might seem minor, but the reality is that keeping your hard drive plugged and on probably cost about $2 a month in electricity anyways. Flickr is $24.95 a year for unlimited storage. For now, it seems like a pretty good deal. (Some say you shouldn’t trust online sites either, but Flickr, owned by Yahoo, seems a pretty safe bet. Just don’t trust them with your only copies of photos). There also seems to be some other free backup options I didn’t see before listed here.
- I’m remotely syncing my recent files to my FTP server. Again, this might be overkill for some of you, but if your a student or use your computer for daily business it’s worth considering. I have webspace so this isn’t an additional cost for me. And I use SyncBack to automate the process so I never have to think about it. For an option to sync your documents with google docs try this. I’ve also used Live Sync to sync between computers or just online.
- I bought a 500gb external Hard Drive. As we continually add more and more photos and data to our computer we are going to need a lot more space. Hard Drives are pretty cheap these days, and allow you to have instant access to all your files, and back up everything quickly (as opposed to DVD’s or web). I’d recommend you buy one and back up everything at least monthly (if not weekly). You can use SyncBack to set up an automated backup or Sync so you can leave it plugged in and not think about it, or just put it on your calendar. You can find good prices on Hard Drives here.
Anyways, that’s my advice. I advocate for penny-pinching free ways to get by a lot, but this is one area I think is probably worth spending a few bucks to make sure you never have to weep over lost memories or term papers. If you have any tips, include them in the comments.