Backup - Computer and discI am writing this article as a reminder firstly to myself, but also thought that its good general advice for anyone using digital information. It is not intended to be exhaustive, and is only an introduction – a prompt to perhaps spark new thought and consideration on this subject all the time at work or at home, and to keep it in mind at all times. Please feel free to add helpful comments at the end of the article to add additional information / ideas / suggestions that I haven’t included since this subject is considered to be extremely important and sometimes greatly neglected area of computing. Thanks 🙂

It is true to say that any work that has been created on a computer is the most valuable digital data of them all. Programs and operating systems can be re-installed, hardware can be repaired or replaced but unique work which has been created cannot be replaced if there is no back up – this is true for individual home users right through to large corporate organisations.

1. Backing up work – excuses not to – avoid these and any others.

  • The longer you use the computer the ‘safer’ you feel that it is stable and won’t crash – until one day it does!
  • There’s never any time to backup properly
  • Not being sure how to backup, or which is the best backup option for you or your company
  • One will probably never need to use a backup, so there is no point in spending time and effort investigating and creating a good backup policy. It’s never been needed up to now, so no point in updating it either.
  • There are more important / or urgent things to be done first – we’ll do it later.
  • There isn’t anything worth backing up (chances are, there will be things which are ‘taken for granted’ or forgotten about – address lists, settings, favourites, e-mail history – they just don’t come to mind straight away – but they will when suddenly they are not there any more after a failure. It’s worth spending time considering what would cause you problems and make your life difficult if it was suddenly lost without warning).
  • Can’t be bothered…!

 

2. Just a few of the many reasons why its critical to backup work etc regularly and comprehensively

  • In the even of human error – accidental (or purposeful) loss of data due to human interaction with the data or media it is stored on – with a backup, there is a chance of work being recovered
  • Getting a virus on your system and needing to remove a virus
  • In the event of physical hardware failure of the media the data is stored on
  • Power failures or faults – can happen at any time – it only takes a very small interruption to the power supply
  • Bad weather / natural disasters – thunderstorms etc can cause power failures and spikes, floods, fire etc etc
  • Theft – what happens if your laptop is stolen, and you haven’t backed up your data?
  • Software corruption – for example a program could start saving a large document corruptly, which might then not re-open

There are many different ways to backup in terms of data protection level including off-site backups and multiple backups, automated backups, backup schedules, backup policies and whether you backup only critical data or all data and how often – the list goes on and there are many choices that can be made. In the same way, choosing the right backup media which works best for you or the company is important too. Again, there are many choices available in this area.

Other links to information related to backing up:

Wikipedia article on Data Backup
Basic BBC article on Data Backup at home

Backups and archives – critical area of digital data management

Regular backing up of work and other items is a critical part of the workflow whether at work or home. I think its important to build-in time to do this regularly, repeatedly and at various stages throughout the life-time of any project, and to ensure appropriate archiving when a project is completed – correct archiving of work is another critically important area of digital data management.

Please post any helpful links (not adverts – these will be rejected along with advertising links!) to useful content on the web related to giving information about how to practically carry out backups and archiving, and perhaps some links to good tools to do the job, and better yet, personal experience of using the tools and making backups. Thanks 🙂

Top article image and thumbnail: Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net