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Author Topic: Backing up Your Computer  (Read 1301 times)

Law2k6

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Backing up Your Computer
« on: July 16, 2006, 11:54:54 PM »
Ok, so I know we all talk about it but few of us actually back up our computers as often as we should. I thought I'd post my thoughts and see what other good ideas people have.

Suggestions:

1. Backup daily
2. Backup to an external HD
3. Backup to an online service

Regarding backing up online:

Off-site backups are important in the off chance that your apartment burns down or is plundered by thieves. I know a guy from work whose computer was stolen a couple months ago and he lost all his files from college forward. Think about it. It happens. It would not be a fun surprise to come home from a bar review and find your laptop and your external HD (the place where you had all your backups) both missing.

I suggest looking into: http://mozy.com. It's a pretty slick online service. They provide free online storage for 2GB and you can purchase more at very reasonable rates. If you're concerned about privacy, they let you encrypt with your own private key. Also, you can specify what folders to backup, so you could just specify your law school folder and not your "taxes and top secret personal files" folder. Basically, it will regularly backup your data to the Mozy servers so you don't even have to think about it...until that fateful day when your HD crashes and you need your data.

An alternative to online backups that would also provide offsite protection would be to keep a USB thumbdrive on your keychain and use that to backup. The drawback is that thumbdrives sometimes break unexpectedly. I had one that must have been dropped one too many times and just quit working, despite no external damage. Also, you lose the convenience of automatic backups.

Also, some schools have a certain amount of network storage space they give to students. You might utilize that for backup purposes too.

My strategy:

1. Use Mozy (http://mozy.com) to automatically backup my important files online (offsite) whenever my computer is idle.
2. Use KeepSafe (see review at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1948066,00.asp) which automatically backs up files every time they are changed. You can specify how many old versions you want to keep and where to save the backups (locally, remotely, or both). This is very useful in situations where you do something stupid like accidentally save over a file or delete something from a document, save it, and realize you goofed (or otherwise delete or lose a file). If you're between backups, this can be a real lifesaver! I've done dumb stuff like that before and it's an awful feeling to spend hours working on a paper (outline/brief) and then lose it before you get home to backup. KeepSafe only saves files when they are changed, though, so it's not a comprehensive solution.
3. Nightly backups to an external HD of my entire "law school" folder. I haven't decided whether I'll just do a manual drag-n-drop or use software to do it automatically. Software that might be worth checking out is Microsoft's new SyncToy which will let you only copy changes and should be quick/easy to use. (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/synctoy.mspx) An external USB hard drive can be picked up pretty cheaply.
4. Regular (weekly?) full system backups to my network storage drive (a 250GB mirrored storage unit).
5. Backups to DVD from time to time.

I'm not saying that this is the best strategy or that everyone needs to do all of the above, but I figured I'd share it and see what others might suggest. (The last two I admit might be overkill and thus not appealing to most people. But, hey, I'm like that. :P)
U.Va. Law, J.D. 2009

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2006, 12:06:30 AM »
Thanks for the links.

If your laptop gets stolen and your usb stick is in the bag you would be equally screwed.

Online backup looks good.

OingoBoingo

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2006, 12:21:15 AM »
Thanks for the links.

If your laptop gets stolen and your usb stick is in the bag you would be equally screwed.

Online backup looks good.

"Strongly" seconded. Seriously, thank you Law 2K6 for bringing this up.

Oingo
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Law2k6

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2006, 12:33:35 AM »
Thanks for the links.

If your laptop gets stolen and your usb stick is in the bag you would be equally screwed.

Online backup looks good.

"Strongly" seconded. Seriously, thank you Law 2K6 for bringing this up.

Oingo

Sure thing! :)

I'm as guilty as anyone when it comes to getting lazy about backing up. I figure if we all talk about it, we'll be more likely to actually do it now that so much of our "lives" will be stored on our law school laptops. Plus, I'm sure other people have good ideas I haven't thought of yet.
U.Va. Law, J.D. 2009

supergirluw

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2006, 01:03:57 AM »
thanks for the advice! after losing everything on my old laptop during undergrad, i definitely need to heed to this....

beer gunner

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2006, 03:49:26 AM »
I am just hoping that things keep going well and crashes don't occur and I don't need to reboot; but just in case I am keeping all my important info on a secret USB flash drive - you can get a good flash drive with 2MB of memory for 50$!  The next step up from that is the external hardrive which may be far along but in my future... :-\
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cyberrev

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2006, 09:15:50 AM »
i've partitioned my hard drive with system files/programs on c and my documents on d.

i back up d to an external usb hard drive.  critical files are also stored on a cd/rw.

it's fun to be anal  :D

sck

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2006, 09:34:55 AM »
Haha. Rev., I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that.

System files on C, documents and installed programs on D, MP3s on E. It also pays to pay attention to how your computer is behaving. I've only had one hard drive crash that I didn't know was coming.. and that was my work computer which inexplicably fried one day while I was working on it.

General rule of thumb: if it can't be replaced easily, back it up. You don't need to back up your OS or any programs you have install disks for. And really, it's quicker to just reinstall stuff sometimes. If you have a PC, be sure to keep version control enabled. Last Known Good is your friend when you hit an unbootable disk, many times.

I admit, I'm hideous about backing up my files, and I work in IT and know better!
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Jolie Was Here

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2006, 10:52:26 AM »
While I was waiting to learn whether any/all of my files could be rescued from my precious powerbook (after I'd killed it with a spill), a guy at Tekserve told me that the world was divided into two basic groups: those who've suffered a catastrophic loss of data, and those who haven't *yet*.  I've heard a few different versions, but the basic lesson was learned. 

I backup my documents and personal data twice -- daily to my external hard drive and a remote server.  I do a complete volume backup weekly to my external hard drive.  Once I'm in school I'll probably add a third layer. 
I was referring to your intellectual penis. Which is quite robust.

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yiplong

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Re: Backing up Your Computer
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2006, 10:55:18 AM »
Backing up your file to a secondary hard drive is not safe enough.  What if the Soviet Union decided to launch a nuclear attach at your school, thereby destroying your primary machine, secondary hard drive, yourself and your law school?  As a law student, you must ensure the survival of your all-important outlines and notes at whatever cost, even taking extreme steps that will push you decisively from borderline crazy to complete insanity.  
First, you must have multiple secured servers scattered throughout the world, protected in safes and bunkers, hidden in submarines deep under the ocean surface, so that the only way the evil commies, who are so determined to undermine your law school performance can completely destroy your notes is by taking out every single server at once.  
Second, you need to store all files in a database, and this database should be log shipped every 0.01 second to every backup server.  What this means is that every 0.01 second, your backups will be updated with the newest changes you made to the primary machine.  The log is shipped under strong encryption, of course, so the evil commies cannot intercept and corrupt your all-important notes and outlines.  You will never lose a single moment in law school, whether your professor makes a weird ‘err…’ sound in class or you feel so amazingly infatuated with the cutie sitting across from you, you will have this important knowledge recorded in your notes, ready to be pulled out and studied when it comes to exam time.