Back up Back up Back up Back up

Have you ever heard that you should back up your data? It’s an important philosophy to embrace, and with today’s technology there isn’t any reason to ignore it.

A couple of years ago I got an external hard drive and backed some folders and files up; nothing regular or on a particular schedule, but I backed things up every now and then.

Last January I started backing some things up ‘to the ozone’ (the cloud) to give me a piece of mind in case something bad actually happened to my computer *and* the external drive.

I thought of it as business insurance  that would allow me to re-create what I needed, if I ever needed to.

You know where this story is going, right?

My computer was having issues most of last year – freezing up at random times and not letting me do anything except a cold reboot (shutting it down via the power button, NOT recommended).

I knew the system needed to be cleaned up, but it was always “I’ll get to it later” and “I can’t drop my laptop off somewhere for a few days, I need to work!”

I pushed my luck to the end: My laptop died last week. Just. Stopped. Working.

It was a weekday (work day) morning. One moment I was productive, the next simply staring open-mouthed at the screen.

Shock, awe, anger, disbelief, all the emotions of grief and loss filtered through me. Anger was prevalent.

I brought the system to a geek shop and within 24 hours had the system back with a brand new (quite empty) disk drive and a fresh version of the operating system.

Nothing is retrievable from the original disk. I need to rebuild what I had.

So, what about the back ups?

An analysis helped me realize I had most data; I can re-create what I didn’t back up. But, then I remembered Outlook. Where was the PST file stored? Did I back that up?

For the last few days I didn’t think I had any version of the PST and it was crushing me to know I lost so many emails. But, as I was writing this post, I looked, once again, into the files I backed up and found a December version of the PST file! Yay! Not the most recent, but at least it’s something!

My tips:

  • back up your data regularly
  • know what data is most important to you and/or your business (and know where the folders and files are located in a file structure)
  • if you download and install software online, print out the install instructions and product keys
  • if you install software from disks, know where those disks are
  • unless you can bring your system to the vendor, or have the vendor come to you — get references (now, while your computer is working) of computer shops that can help you if you ever have system issues

It’s one thing to mourn the loss of vacation photos, it’s another to realize your entire business has to be rebuilt.

Don’t let your productivity drop to zero if/when your system has problems. Prepare for a worst-case scenario now, and it most likely won’t happen. But if it does come to fruition, you’ll keep moving forward.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

23 thoughts on “Back up Back up Back up Back up

  1. Very good advice, Thankyou. I only use the standard computer back up, I know that I should invest in a hard drive, but I’ll always look into it ‘tomorrow’.
    Having lost one entire chunk of my life memories, photos, contacts etc through divorce & no longer owning the computer, you’d think I’d have learnt by now!
    Thanks for the reminder x

  2. Excellent advice. I always try to back up my most important work but I have to admit I’m lagging behind. Perhaps it’s time to get it all sorted out. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Backup backup backup, but don’t rely on your own memory/motivation to get it done. Use something that will do it automatically for you. If you’re on a Mac, use Time Machine. If you’re on Windows, there are plenty of free apps out there Cobain is good for a simple solution, but if you are comfortable with more complex solutions, the sky’s the limit there.

  4. Oh lord! Been there done that. Great advice. I back up with an external hard drive, but here’s something I didn’t know. It will write over the oldest files when it reaches a certain capacity. So, I also have begun using the cloud. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Absolutely. With all of the available free cloud storage out there, most starting at 5GB. That is more than enough to back up document files. I use Dropbox plus an external drive for all pictures, music, and documents. I try my best to at least back up docs to dropbox once a week. Years ago, in the days of floppy disk, I lost some files and learned my lesson.

    • Ahhh, floppy disks. I still have stuff on the 5.25″ disks… why I still have them, I have no idea. I obviously don’t need any data off of them! 🙂 Dropbox is great.. and an external hard drive. I also use Carbonite. Am re-evaluating and assessing… and documenting exactly what I need, where I’m putting things, and all that. 🙂

  6. Back up to the cloud every day automatically (Carbonite, Mozy, etc. they’re all good) and also back up any big hunks of writing immediately to a thumbdrive or flash card. This way, you’re totally covered for any equipment failure.

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