Byte Me Article 175 – Keep daily backups of your work

Keep Daily Backups of Your Work

Once upon a time man used to chisel important verse into stone.  This was thought to be a great method of safe keeping and it was expected to last many years.  After going to this much trouble I suggest that they also had the presence of mind to store these rocks well away from any deep rivers!  Now we keep immense amounts of important information (called data) and store it electronically on hard drives and memory sticks.  Some of this data has taken many hours to construct, however we often see little thought given to its safe keeping.

If you create a document or a photo or a company tax file then this is your own sculpture and it may take a lot of effort or be near impossible to reproduce.  If something goes wrong and you do lose this data then it is often labelled as a catastrophe and we still see way too many people coming through our doors after this has happened.  So let’s look at how this can happen and how we can easily prevent this disaster.

The internal ‘hard drive’ that stores data in a computer or laptop is still normally a piece of mechanical equipment with bearings and motors.  These can fail even when very new and often without any warning – which can result in total loss of all of the data stored on them or a repair bill of thousands to get even a percentage of the information back.  An external ‘backup drive’ is exactly the same sort of device – which is probably at even more risk since its portability increases the risk of being dropped, lost or stolen.

2014-05-24 Byte Me Article 175 - Make a Backup

We have always seen a number of cases each month where important information was stored on a backup drive only, because it was “called a backup drive” and so it was thought to be as good as chiselling into stone – wrong!  We see similar cases with USB drives because some people refer to them as a ‘backup’ device however the term ‘backup’ is being viewed here in totally the wrong context.  A backup device should be containing a ‘copy’ of your data – it should not be the primary or the only data storage device.

If you have created your own electronic sculpture, whether it be a photo, document, spread sheet, tax file or customer database then keep the master copy of this work on the PC that created it and keep a regularly updated copy on a ‘backup’ device such as an external hard drive or a USB drive as above.  If you are using a public computer or don’t have the space to store it on your PC then keep a master copy on a backup device and a separate copy on yet another backup device – and don’t carry both around at the same time!

We recently saw another disaster where the only copy of a business customers’ valuable data was kept on a NAS (network attached storage) device.  The internal hard drives had failed without notifying the customer and important data was lost forever.  Again – this data should also have been kept on a second device and updated every day.  In this case the NAS (which cost thousands) could have warned them through an email, however this facility had never been turned on!

Some people only use a PC for browsing the Internet and sending personal emails so there is no important data to preserve, however the majority of PC users have data that is valuable to them that is often overlooked as far as preservation is concerned.  Don’t become complacent and don’t leave things to chance – computers are no rock and keyboards are no chisel. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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