Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Making your life easier - back that shit up

In my opinion, as the average computer user, there is nothing more terrifying than the moment when a computer bluescreens or fails to boot. There's that moment of terror thinking, "Omfg. Are my files all gone? How on earth will I go on? Will I get fired?"

Stop giving yourself (and your tech support, whether it be at work or a family member) a heart attack. Back your shit up.

I've learned this lesson the hard way a few times, so I can speak with some authority when I say "Back that shit up!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!!!ELEVENTY!!!!"

Three times I've had devastating data losses:
  1. The infamous "Crash of '97" when I was poking around in DOS and was curious as to what "deltree" was all about. (hint: don't do it at c:\, or at all, for that matter)
  2. The infamous "Breakin of '00". Nope, the neighbour's didn't take the electronics to get them cleaned. We got cleaned out while my parents were vacationing in Mexico and I was at work.
  3. The infamous "Breakin of '10". Apparently I didn't learn my lesson a decade earlier. Turns out basement apartments in Toronto are not invisible to thieves.
After the first data loss, I kind of learned my lesson. I started backing up on floppy disks and making redundant copies on my hard drive. But, making extra file copies on the same computer and saving on disks that are right beside the computer you're using is kind of like putting 5 twoonies in one piggy bank because you're afraid a $10 bill might get stolen. Your backups aren't going to help if you lose your data because of a house fire.

The most important data that I have, in my opinion, are my writing files. I've got stories I've written over the past couple decades that I treasure more than budget spreadsheets or tax forms. So, anything that I don't want to have to live without, I backup on an external hard drive and email to myself. I also have burnt CD and DVD copies.

Now, here's the thing about backups - they can fail, too. CDs and DVDs can get too scratched to be read, floppy disks are obsolete and difficult to find a drive to read them nowadays, USB flash drives can snap off or get lost, and external hard drives can get knocked off a coffee table and have the USB port smashed in. Hypothetically.

If your data is really, super dee duper, really mega important, make a few different backups. Because there will come a time when your computer won't turn on, when your dog will find your collection of DVDs, or when you knock over the external HD for the millionth and final time.

As for more work-related stuff, don't fight with your IT department. If they say to backup your files to the N: drive, don't save them all on your desktop. Many less heart-attacks will be had all around if you let the nice, smart IT people tell you what to do to protect your files.They'll make sure your data is backed up and stored safely out of reach of power spikes, spilled Cokes, or family pets.

And back to passwords.


My next password is gonna be poopslingingmonkeysdontvote. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

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