Backups Equal Peace of Mind

Despite the fact that most people depend greatly on their computers, it seems that very few people have a good backup system in place that would allow them to continue working in the event that their hard drive fails. The thing that I have discovered is that having a good backup solution gives me peace of mind.

I certainly don’t want my hard drive to fail nor do I want something to happen to me computer. However, I sleep just fine at night knowing that if something does happen to my computer or hard drive, I have easy access to all of my data and I can be back up and running in short order.

In my mind, a good backup system has two important features:

  • It is multi-layered
  • It is automatic

The layering protects you from your points of failure and the automatic protects you from you. The key thing to remember is that no one likes backups. Thus, no one will run backups on the schedule you are supposed to. Software, however, allows you to schedule your backups so they run automatically. Thus, you don’t even need to think about them.

Below I will describe the backup system that I use. I describe it here not because it is the perfect or ideal solution, but rather as a model of what a backup system looks like. Keep in mind that I am working from a hard drive on a computer (in my case a laptop), with no server. Also, the focus here is on data backups rather than mirroring my system drive. With that being said, my system is as follows:

There are three main hardware components to my backup system. I have my laptop where all of my data lives. I have an external drive at my office that I back up to. (In my case I lease server space from my landlord, but an external hard drive would work just the same). I also have a desktop at my home that have a large capacity drive.

For the software component, I use a product called SyncBack. I find the software works well, is easy to use, and is inexpensive. In all honesty, I would like to find something like Time Machine. However, I have not yet found anything that runs on Windows that can do what Time Machine does.

My system works as follows. I create a profile to backup documents both at home and at my office. I set the program to automatically run the profile at the time that I will most likely be at the location. Then SyncBack automatically backs up my documents to both my office location (when I am in the office) and to my home desktop (when I am at home).

Additionally, my home machine automatically backs up all of its data with an internet back up service.

Using this system, I have multiple back ups in multiple locations. If disaster were to strike my office, I have a copy of my data at home. If disaster were to strike my home, I have a copy of my data at my office. If disaster were to strike both my office and my home, I have a copy of my data on the internet.

Since I have gone to a system like this, I have had to recover from (at least) two hard drive crashes and move my files to a new computer. I achieved all of this without any difficulty and without worrying that my data had been lost.

One caveat that I must mention is that the point of a backup system is to recover your data in the event of a data loss. Thus, you need to regularly make sure that your backups are properly saving your data and that they are not becoming corrupted. A corrupted back up is the same as having no back up.

Backing Up Your Gmail Account

I along with many other people I know have a Gmail account. I don’t use mine for business, however, I know that some people do.

If you are using your Gmail account for anything that is at all important, you need to check out Gmail Backup. Gmail backup is a nifty utility that allows you to backup your Gmail account. thus preventing you from losing any of your important emails. Google is good, but it is not infallible. Given the email outages that have happened with the Gmail service, it is not inconceivable that you could lose some of your emails at times.

If you use Gmail for anything important at all, I suggest you check out Gmail Backup.

Hat tip to Inter Alia for pointing this out.

More Backup Suggestions

I cannot suggest often enough that you need to have a good backup plan in place. I know Ross Kodner has written on this topic, which he calls the most boring topic in legal technology, multiple times.

Certainly, this is not the most exciting topic around. However, WHEN you have a hard drive fail, you will either be very happy that you had a backup or you will curse yourself for not having one. Trust me, the first emotion is much better.

PC Magazine has a good summary article on the best backup tools available.  The article provides great information of the various backup methods available, as well as the pros and cons of each. Plus, the article discusses specific products, both hardware and software that will allow you to accomplish your backup goals.

This is another great article from PC Magazine. If you have not yet implimented a backup solution for both your home and work computers, you need to change that right now. The PC Magazine article gives you to the tools to do that.

A tip of the hat to the Affinity Law Office Technology Blog for pointing out this article.