Sunday, 8 July 2012

Backups Again

I've gradually become more and more sophisticated in how I keep my backups. I lost a laptop once and it was enough trouble to more than justify the effort I've made. Currently, I've got 4 systems which I use simultaneously. 1. Backup to an external hard drive. This is easy to do, I bought an external drive and leave it on my desk. Once or twice a week I copy all my work stuff onto it using the Windows 7 backup manager. I've generally found the Windows 7 backup manager to be pretty good, and fairly straightforward. 2. Ongoing jobs backup to flash disk. I keep a little 2.0GB drive in my top drawer and whenever I'm working on a decent sized job I try to backup to it pretty regularly. I do it at the end of a day as well, or after I finish any smaller job. I purchased a "Sandisk Cruser" device but I want to say that I won't be buying another one. It comes with quite heavy software of its own which occasionally makes my windows crash, and which doesn't seem to do anything except keep asking me to upgrade my memory. I like the fact that you can password protect the contents, but then I would probably just do that with a passworded zip file anyway, so it's redundant. If you buy one, make sure you can use it as a regular USB drive and it doens't insist that you use its own software. 3. Running Carbonite backup continuously. This was a bit expensive. Basically Carbonite sits on your laptop and continually watches what you are doing. When you change a file it uploads the new version, so it's constantly running. It can be a little drag on bandwidth and when it starts uploading my laptop's fan usually turns on. It's more than worth the trouble for me though. Even if I get robbed and all my devices are stolen, I should be able to restore anything as soon as I get a new laptop. Peace of mind. I find the software very user friendly, but I tried to do a test restore from my black laptop to my red laptop and it just started thinking I wanted to keep the red laptop backed up, and then when I went to use the black one again, it said I had to reinstall the program as it had been run on another computer. That means it's not a practical thing to use to keep my red (backup) laptop up to date once or twice a week with my main black laptop. 4. I've got two identical laptops. This has proven useful already when I had to send one for repair. It's just a pain to remember to install all my programs twice and make sure both of them are kept up to date. I usually just update all the files on the non-working laptop once or twice a week from my external hard drive. I also do that if I'm taking the black laptop out, so I can get up and running straight away if I lose it. So that's my 4 methods of backing up. I've never had to miss a job due to a computer error, or suddenly lost a lot of work due to a crash or something, but it is very time consuming and might not be right for everyone. As a rough estimate I would say it takes about 2 days of work a month to keep the stuff updated (including all the invoicing and stuff and also the hours I need to work extra to pay for the subscriptions).

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