World Backup Day

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who have lost data due to a system crash, and those who will. – Mike Epstein

What would you do if next time you turn on your computer, instead of the Windows, Mac or Linux boot screen, instead, you saw something like this:

or the equally scary

You’ll check the hard drive, discover it had failed in some way, taking all your valuable data, those photos from that “once in a lifetime” holiday, pictures of your children when they were little, and many other irreplaceable files with it.

Now, this story can go one of two ways and it depends on the answer to the next question – the first question I ask if someone asks me for help after a disk failure, or a virus attack, or they get one of those “ransomware” malware attacks

“when was your last good backup?”

It’s simple, if you have a good backup, when the inevitable happens, and your drive crashes, or a power spike fries your PC, or you spill coffee on your laptop, or you get infected by “drive by” malware, then the incident is just a nuisance – maybe an expensive, time-consuming nuisance if your laptop is destroyed, but you know your valuable data is safe.

Right now – do you know that your data is safe?

Today is World Backup Day – so if you don’t have a backup plan, make one and act on it, if you do have a backup plan check it and make sure it’s working.

Also keep in mind that your backup itself can fail, so there’s this mantra that I use when I’m making backups

You can never have too many backups

A well planned and tested backup approach changes a total computer failure from being an utter catastrophe and the loss of all your photos, videos, documents, and makes it a minor annoyance as you replace the equipment and restore.

I use a mixture of backup approaches depending on the data – irreplaceable photos and the like are backed up to an external USB drive, but that won’t protect the data against events like fire or flood, so that data is secondarily backed up (in an encrypted form) to a cloud backup provider (actually an Amazon S3 account) – I  know that whatever may happen to my computers, I can retrieve that data – all I need do is buy a new machine, and log on.

I also recommend CrashPlan as a PC to PC backup product, but the two important things for a backup are simply this – that it’s done, and that’s it’s restorable.  The second point is just as important as the first – I hear far too often that people are taking backups, or that they think they are, but they never check the contents of the backup files until it’s too late.  It doesn’t matter if you’re backing up to USB sticks, blank DVD’s, a spare hard drive, or the really old-school floppy disk…  if your backup isn’t tested, you can’t know it’ll work when the time comes to use it for real – and that time will come.

It’s not a case of “if”, it’s a case of “when”

I’ve taken the pledge, why don’t you too:

I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st. I will also tell my friends and family about World Backup Day – friends don’t let friends go without a backup.