Backup Strategy

Why does anyone need a backup strategy? Maybe a big business, but not me at home? Oh yeah, feller you do! *Everyone* needs a backup strategy, most especially those that think they don't need one!

Backup is not just a one product solution. Just buying an external USB drive is not enough. Just having Symantec BackupExec is not enough. You need to actually have a little think about how and why you are backing up.

And for those of you who are not backing up your data - fracking listen up dudes, this is for you.


For most normal people, and by that I mean home users, small business and the likes, the Professional Photographer's 3-2-1 strategy is perfect.

3 copies. No data that you value should exist in only one place. Too many things can happen to that sole copy and then you have nothing. In 30 years of doing IT daily, I might have seen one or two people crying over lost data. No damn it, I've seen dozens and its never a pretty sight. Oh yes, we downloaded the photos of our kids onto the laptop. (full stop) Where else did you put them? Oh, nowhere, the laptop was the only place. Fracking Hell, you mean a $50 laptop hard disk with an expected life of 3 years was the only thing you trusted your irreplaceable photos to? I want to scream "you idiot!" but I know this is only because you weren't taught any better. Your digital education failed the crap out of you.

You **must** make more than one copy of anything you care about. 3 copies is the ideal number. Just trust me on this.

2 different types of media. Having a CD copy of your CD data is not a backup. If the CD stops working, chances are the second CD will stop for the same reason. Or maybe the CD gets outdated, like that will never happen. Just ask the ZIP disk or the Bernoulli box or the Stringy floppy or the 5.25" floppy disk - you don't see many of them around here now do you?

Media gets outdated. Things fail for a reason. If you couldn't read the CD because it was badly burned by a faulty CD drive, the second and third CDs you made on the same drive will be just as useless. If a big magnet wiped one disk, the others in the same drawer probably suffered the same fate. Get the idea? We need at least two different types of media - a CD and a hard disk, a USB stick and a DVD. Spread the risk.

1 copy **must** be off site. Houses do burn down. Thieves do rob places. Frack happens. If one copy of your valuable data is in another place, chances are it might survive. Make a second USB disk copy and store it at Mum's house.

So I rant about 3-2-1 a lot. Its a simple idea with great benefits. But how do you do this practically?

Internal hard disk on your Mac.

Time Machine backup to external USB disk or Time Machine. Software to do this is built in to the Mac. Easy.

Carbonite off site backup.

Internal hard disk on your PC.

External USB drive. You can get something like Backup Assist to help do this automatically for you. Or you can diarise to copy your new files once a day.

Carbonite off site backup.


Now for those who don't like Carbonite, there's CrashPlan or similar. I don't like the Telstra Bigpond Backup as its expensive and owned by Telstra. Similarly those offered by cheap ISP's are probably equally as cheap. Like heart surgery, the cheapest backup isn't the best. You need to know that if you ever need to use it, your off site backup will work, otherwise it is a waste of money and a miserable failure. You need your data encrypted before it leaves your computer and then securely stored in such a way that you and only you have the password to decrypt it. And that if anyone ever gets that data, they can not use it because the encryption is perfect. At less than $100 per year, Carbonite is my choice. And no, they don't pay me. I wish they did.

There are other off site solutions you can home brew using Amazon storage and products like Jungle Disk. All you geeks - go for it. But why are you reading my blog if you're a geek? You know its highly inaccurate and grossly over simplified? This is for normal people, its a how to, not a scientific or journalistic masterpiece.