I found this article from Robert Ringer in my mailbox this past weekend and it’s ajust a short reminder that accidents do happen, both in libraries and in our personal lives. The moral is both concise and bears repeating: back up your data. Often. In a number of different media. In a number of different locations.
Disasters Really Do Happen
I’ve learned anything at all in my life, it’s that disasters really do
occur. I’ve always been amazed at how most people live their lives on
the assumption that worst-case scenarios haven’t yet been invented.
year’s flurry of hurricanes in Florida, New Orleans going the way of
Atlantis, and 9/11 are obvious examples of what I’m talking about. But
Murphy’s Law did not come into existence just on the basis of an
occasional natural disaster.
burn down every day, people die without their loved ones knowing where
important documents are located, and viruses regularly wipe out
computers. We live in a complex world where the loss of valuable
documents and other items can change a person’s life – overnight and
forever – for the worst
documents, both hard copy and digital, are like a gun: You may not need
them often, but when you do, you need them badly and you need them fast.
least one of the good things that could come out of the recent
wind-and-flood debacles in Mississippi and Louisiana is that perhaps
more people will begin thinking seriously about their important
hard-copy documents as well as their digital files. It’s hard for me to
fathom that less than 25 percent of computer users back up their
computers on a weekly basis.
mentioned in my main article today, the hard drive in my brand-new Dell
computer recently failed. I have tens of thousands of documents,
folders, graphics, e-mails, e-mail addresses, macros, AutoTexts,
AutoCorrects, templates, spreadsheets, and other files stored in
chance, I had everything backed up on an external hard drive, which I
never allowed to leave my sight while my computer was down. Further,
the backup hard drive allowed me to continue working, albeit in a
sluggish and makeshift manner, on an old clunker computer for two
that I said external hard drive. If you try to back up to a second hard
drive that is internal, it’s like sawing the branch off a tree while
you’re sitting on the end of it. In other words, if your computer is
stolen or wiped out in a fire, flood, or by a killer virus, you still
lose everything that’s on the internal backup hard drive.
not one of the 20+ percent of computer users who back up their hard
drives once a week. No way. I back up my hard drive every day!
14 separate backup folders on my external hard drive, and each night I
assign a new date to the folder I’m using for the backup. That way, I
always have a complete backup for each of the last 14 days.
addition, I back up every day to a DVD-RW disk (CDs don’t hold enough
data), because a DVD is easy to take with me wherever I go. Finally,
just to put an exclamation point on the whole thing, I back up my Word
files to a second computer.
you’re chuckling and thinking "anal retention," you either don’t know
much about computers, don’t use a computer to any serious extent, or
have never experienced a computer disaster. If it’s the latter,
congratulations on your good fortune.
trust me, it won’t last. No one makes it through this computerized
world of ours without experiencing a computer disaster. Whether you
like it or not, it’s coming. It’s only a question of whether you’ll be
ready for it.
addition to the external hard drive and DVD solutions I’ve already
mentioned, serious computer users should look into offsite backup as
well. I emphasize that this is not in lieu of the other two backup
solutions but in addition to them.
myself am now investigating offsite backup possibilities, which I
should have done long ago. Pro Softnet Corp.’s IBackup and America
Online’s Xdrive are supposedly two good sources for this service. They
charge only $10 per month for five gigabytes of storage and $100 per
month for 25 gigabytes.
this in proper perspective, think about how many people in New Orleans
and Baton Rouge probably paid hundreds of dollars for Saints and LSU
tickets on many occasions, yet could have saved all the data on their
computers (including important hard-copy documents stored in digital
format) for a fraction of what those tickets cost over the years.
everyone’s heart goes out to the victims of the disasters in
Mississippi and Louisiana, it’s important to learn from such tragic
events. If nothing else, what the Katrina catastrophe should have
taught everyone is how important it is to get serious about backing up
say serious, I mean adopting an extreme philosophy toward backing up.
No matter how overboard you go to protect your files, the costs
involved are relatively small, especially when compared to the high
cost of regret.
And, as a bonus, you won’t have to take sleeping pills when you go to bed at night.