I had the misfortune of having Windows grind to a complete halt on me this week necessitating a total reinstall. To lighten the mood, read this amusing piece - thanks to annoyances.org. Now back to the gloomy stuff. After spending hours trying to fix it by applying numerous "fixes" off the net, I gave up and resigned myself to the reinstall which ended up taking a day to complete. Happily, I had the disks to reinstall, and backups of my important data. Oh, but, of course, backups aren't needed right?
REASON 1 - Computers are reliable now.
Yeah right! The fact that computers run at all, given the permutations of hardware sometimes astounds me. And while they are more reliable than before, they certainly aren't infallible - especially netbooks and laptops which suffer from "heat exhaustion"! Then throw in a whole bunch of software and there's a good recipe for an impending breakdown.
REASON 2 - I don't have anything important.
Really? What about your email, photos, and letters you've written? Could you really afford to lose them? What about free software you've downloaded (because you wouldn't be piratig would you??!!)? Remember where you got it; can you find it online again to download? You might be able to, but it's a lot more convenient to load it off a disk and let it auto update.
REASON 3 - Back up solutions are so expensive.
I remember buying an 80Mb drive back in the 80's. Yes, they were expensive then, but no more. An 500Gb external hard drive (plug into your USB and go) can be bought for around $80, and a 1Tb network drive is around $140. Then there's a bunch of online options like SugarSync, Dropbox (click the name to go and sign up for free storage - heck, click them both!!) and more. For the average user, they're free.
REASON 4 - It's complicated to set up - I'm no geek.
Absolutely not! An external hard drive just plugs into your USB port and the drivers self install and you're away. The network hard drive is a little more complicated granted - you have to pop a CD in your computer and install a program. And online back up solutions are equally simple, requiring just a program install, and then selection of folders to back up.
REASON 5 - I don't have time.
Ouch! This is a really bad excuse. Yep, my set up is possibly a little more complex than an average user's, however, a day of reinstalling Windows and other programs would have run to at least 50% more than that without a backup. Setting up an automated back up system isn't time consuming or complicated, and WILL save you time... sometime. Less than an hour will have you totally automated so you'll never have to worry, "What if....?"
How we do it/what we recommend.
Because we have data that represents hundreds of hours of work, we tend to be a little paranoid, and our set up is more than an average user probably needs. We use a 3 pronged storage regime. Firstly, it's on our computer's hard drive. A neat (and free!!) little program called Autover monitors specified folders and automatically backs up any changed files to our other 2 on site back ups - a Western Digital 320Mb external HD, and a Buffalo Linkstation 1Tb netword HD.
On top of that (because a fire in our home would wipe out all our copies) we use SugarSync to monitor those same folders as Autover does and automatically back up to their off site storage. So we always have at least 4 copies of any file - yes it sounds paranoid, we agree, but we value our data - our client's data! As our clients' website don't reside on our drives, we also make sure they're backed up by us regularly (our hosts do backups, but we want to be sure). Using a special extension to our design software, we have backups set for every week at least, and these are transferred to SugarSync or Dropbox as well.
The bottom line, is that there really is no reason for not backing up your data. It's cheap or free (just use free online back ups), easy to set up, and will save you time at some point. The other cool thing about onine back ups is that they're available anywhere on a smartphone.