Family Backup Strategy – Part I

When my external HD blown up taken down all my son’s and our pictures
and realized that I have deleted original copies from my hard drive
just to install Windows 2003 Server, I have then understood the
importance of taking regular backups and not deleting the originals.

I am still on the look out for the best practice for my own purposes
but at least manage to get enough WAF to spend dollars on a ReadyNas
NV+ and get a solid storage device first. You may get an HD enclosure
and a new HD (please
please please do not use old HDs for backup, that is what I did and
lost, learn from my lesson
) or burn the data on DVDs
depending on the size of data. Even a USB stick with enough size to
keep your personal data will do. Keep one of these outside in a bank
safe or at your parents place.

First thing first, HDs have around 20.000 hours or around 5 years of
life time. Check these specifications with the manufacturer and set a
reminder at rememberthemilk.com
to buy new hard drives. Most HDs with SMART capability will tell you
how many hours they were on the power.

Once you have a solid storage device, now you need a means of backing
up your data onto this device regularly and safely. Luckily most
network attached storage devices provide a solution like one touch
backup, Rsync, file or folder sync etc. Or you can go ballistic and buy
Norton Ghost and set it and forget it. Or maybe you can use Windows
Backup Services to do the job, or a scheduled batch file to copy over
the files even will do the job.

Restore At Least Once

One thing for sure; you need to at least try to restore once to see if
it is actually working. Trying this as important as taking backups. If
it is not restoring properly, what is the point of taking backups.
After you take a full backup, try restoring it for the love of God, and
see all your personal data in one place still accessible and visible.
Do a head count for your files, open some of them and make sure they
are not corrupt or ghost files. Once you pass this step you can be sure
that your backups are valid.

Regularity

You may schedule your backup scripts, or take a backup when there is
change in the watched folders and files. It totally depends on how you
use your computer and what kind of data you have. You can take it every
night, every week, every hour; you decide. Once you make a decision,
don’t stick with it, keep it running for a while and ask the question:
if something go bad, how many hours/days/weeks of data I will be
loosing and change your strategy immediately. Continues improvement is
necessary on the basis of your backup strategy.

First Backups are Always
Painfull

First time backups (depending on the size of your data) are always
painfull. Runs longer, looks like nothing is happening, makes you
irritating that you can not use your computer to accept some of the
game requests on Facebook… Stick with it and have patience. This is
your life, important data has to be backed up and you didn’t do this
because it takes time and your wife is angry with you that you are
putting this task off for a while. Get a cup of tea and some magazines
and watch the data flowing down to your storage device. You will be
doing this for the first time; of course it will take time but the
second run will be easier.

On my next entry, I will be explaining what I am doing for my family
backup strategy.

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