The holidays, and related precious photo opportunities, are upon us… so it’s time for a backup public service announcement. And, unfortunately, I have a feeling most non-geeks leave their data vulnerable to loss.
The point was driven home recently, when I recovered the mother-in-law’s PC – containing thousands of irreplaceable photos, including a trip to China and her son’s wedding. After numerous attempts, the XP machine wouldn’t boot into Windows. Which is when I was called in. I figured either the install had been corrupted or the hard drive was failing. Since the drive was still functional, the first order of business was ensuring the safety of her priceless data. I popped the SATA drive into an external dock (above, ran me about $35 at Micro Center) and offloaded her content onto my Macbook. Then I went about restoring XP (on the same drive), followed by her files. And left her with a backup DVD. However, it’s just a stop-gap… and folks need a more comprehensive archive strategy.
Ideally, data is backed up both locally (convenience) and remotely (redundancy). Apple attempts to bring simple, seamless local archiving and restoration to the masses with Time Machine. While a Time Capsule is probably the easiest implementation for novices avoiding clutter, I periodically hang a 750GB Maxtor One Touch 4 off my MacBook via USB. In the days when Windows was my primary OS, I relied on Acronis True Image for disk images and incremental backups. My main Vista install is a Boot Camp partition, and I’ve used the free Winclone to take a baseline image that I can rebuild from should the need arrive. For remote storage, I was a Mozy customer for some time… But have since moved on to SugarSync. While it’s not quite the Mozy+Mac Gallery+Dropbox über solution I was hoping for, they’re off to a good start – I’m willing to give them some time to refine and and enhance their service. (Neither of these cloud storage services would be appropriate if your ISP restricts you to a low data transfer cap.)
So, are you backing up… If so, how? If not, why? And standby for a post by Dale on his Drobo RAID-like storage usage.