Backup Part 1: Why Backup?

3 minute read

It’s a good question to start with.

I had been putting off sorting out my backup strategy for too long (money, time, knowledge all excuses used). But drives fail, memories are lost, tears are shed and it doesn’t bring them back. Luckily this has never happened to me, but it could happen at any time. As I’ve been thinking about backup I thought it would be a good idea to write about, this it the first in a series of posts.

##Data loss = memories lost

Unless you only use your computer for browsing the web and playing games you probably have data on there that you wouldn’t want to lose.

Data is such a cold word for what could be irreplaceable pictures of your child’s first steps, a body of writing, your music collection or emails from friends.

What does this mean for most people? If your drive fails you’ve lost everything, sure you might be able to recover some of the data at a significant expense but I don’t fancy your chances, as we’ll find out.

If the data on your main computer is only on your main computer it doesn’t exist.

##Schofield’s Second Law of Computing

What do I mean it doesn’t exist? Well it can be best summed up by the Schofield’s Second Law of Computing, which states ‘data doesn’t really exist unless you have at least two copies of it’.

You’ll need those 2 copies because at least one will fail and you better hope the other one still works. Source Source ##But I’ve never had a drive fail

Neither have I, but drive failure rates can vary a lot, even within the same manufacturer, they could die this year or they might last many years. Backblaze, a cloud backup company recently blogged about Which Hard Drive is the Best? and as they use a variety of different drives it’s interesting to see how they compare and how unpredictable the numbers are. Their usage is likely to be a lot heavier than the average person and because of the volume they buy they’re aiming for the lowest price but even so it shows that drives won’t last a lifetime and probably not even a few years.

Your drive will fail.

If you have a spinning drive in your laptop then you can guarantee that your hard drive is at a bigger risk of failure. It could be a bump or a series of them. Of course you might have an SSD and assume you’re safe.

You’re not. They will fail eventually too. There isn’t a lot of data for SSD as they’re still relatively young but rely on them at your peril.

##But I can recovery my data…

That’s true, but it will take time and money and there is no guarantee you won’t lose something. Computer weekly have a nice summary but you’re in the hands of experts at that point. Depending on how the failure occurred it could be pricey and as you’re in a vulnerable position it’s very easy to be ripped off.

##What next?

It makes no sense not to have some form of backup and there are plenty options around. While it’s not free, data recovery is expensive in comparison.

It’s worth mentioning a few things I don’t think of as backup:

• Facebook - Sure I can upload my photos there but I give up so much in return. My photos could be used in ads without my knowledge, endorsing products I would never dream of endorsing. Uploading my photos there is as good as handing them over to a stranger. • iCloud - There are have been far too many reports of data loss and the sort of data loss that doesn’t lead to recovery.

In the next part I’ll look at my current setup, some mistake I made along the way and how you might assess gaps you need to plug.

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