31 December 2010

Time to Back-up

Thanks to Dick Eastman for the illustration as well
as much of the information in this post.
I shared earlier this year about my semi-backed-up computer crash. Yesterday I asked my daughter if I could copy her photos. She got some from me BC (before crash). She complained about the process. What a pain! She didn't want to spend the computer time doing that. I asked her if she had her computer backed up. "Well, yes," she said, "but I can't find the external hard drive I used." That's a real problem since she is a college student with frequent moves.  This post is dedicated to you, my dear.

There are some basic programs we can use that will automatically do some backing up. G-mail will preserve the emails we haven't deleted yet. I retrieved many attachments that I shared with cousins, sisters, etc. By the way, sharing is another good protection, no matter how you do it. Picassa is a way to store photos on-line. I-tunes can sync music on your ipod, but when I tried to restore, I was in trouble because the ipod thought I had a different computer. (I did have a different hard drive.) I use Drop box to share files with other committee members and it also syncs between computers.

But none of the above gave me the total security I needed when both my hard drives became corrupted. I consider Dick Eastman the guru of back-ups. Here are some recent quotes from his blog.

From December 1, 2010: It is the first day of the month. It's time to back up your genealogy files.
Actually, you can make backups at any time. However, it is easier and safer if you have a specific schedule. The first day of the month is easy to remember, so I would suggest you back up your genealogy files on the first of every month.
Of course, you might want to back up more than your genealogy files. Family photographs, your checkbook register, all sorts of word processing documents, and much more need to be backed up regularly. Why not do that on the first of each month?
How much information and how many pictures will you lose if your hard drive crashes this evening?  By the way, all hard drives WILL crash someday. The only question is "when?" Make your backups today.
Dick Eastman on November 20, 2010: I have written a number of times about Mozy, an excellent off-site backup program for both Windows and Macintosh systems. You can read some of my past articles if you start at http://goo.gl/T4lOF. I wrote about Mozy 2.0 for Windows at http://goo.gl/b6lkl. In that article, I wrote: "Mozy 2.0 is a free download for Windows systems only, with a Mac 2.0 version promised to follow 'later this year.'" The company made good on the promise: Mozy 2.0 for Macintosh is available now.
Version 2.0 for Macintosh adds several new background algorithm and efficiency improvements, resulting in significantly faster operation. The speed of file transfers across the Internet are still dependent of the speed of the Internet connection used, however. Both Home and Professional users get more advanced file sorting and search to find the stuff on their hard drive that needs backing up. Much of that is invisible to the user. However, anyone who has been using Mozy on a Macintosh will immediately notice the new, more native, Mac-like look.
Mozy 2.0 for both Windows and Macintosh systems is free for everyone with up to 2 gigabytes of storage space. Unlimited home and business plans can be obtained for reasonable monthly prices. Details may be found at http://mozy.com/
Additional information by Eastman: The Time Machine local backups do make backups of the entire hard drive while I use BackBlaze to make online backups ONLY of my Documents folders which include all my documents, pictures, income tax data, etc. I don't see any need to back up the entire hard drive as I can always reinstall the operating system and applications. I only worry about my DATA and that gets backed up in multiple places.
In addition to the above, I also use DROPBOX to automatically copy files from the desktop to laptop computers and vice versa. In effect, this gives me a third backup although that is not my primary purpose of it. I use it more simply to keep my files (documents) in sync so that I always have the latest versions on all computers.
I would suggest that you never, ever save only one copy of a file to any online service or to any one hard drive. If the file is important to you, always save at least two copies to different places. Three copies saved to three different places is even better and four copies to four different places is better still.
If you ever lose your only copy on Google Docs or your only copy on your local hard drive, you want to be able to go to your (multiple) backup copies and retrieve the file that you need.
So, can you trust Google Docs? No, not any more than you can trust your hard drive or anything else. The only safety comes in numbers. In this case, that means the number of backup copies you have stored in different places.
And finally, another scary thought from March 18, 2010: Sure, we all know how to back up files that are on our hard drives, right? There are multiple methods of accomplishing that. How about backing up your data on Facebook? or Google Docs? or Zoho Docs? or how about backing up your blog on Blogger.com or Wordpress? How about all your pictures on Flickr or Photobucket? What would happen of a system glitch erased all your information on those services? Could you recover? 
Perhaps most important of all, how about all your stored email messages on Gmail or Hotmail? Many of use use those online services as "filing cabinets" for our email messages and may have thousands of messages stored on one of those online services. If Hotmail or Google suddenly loses your stored messages, what will you do?
Other online services have gone out of business abruptly in the past. Still others have had system crashes that resulted in irrecoverable data. Sure, they all should be performing their own backups but even the best-run I.T. shops occasionally have unplanned outages. Online accounts also get hacked occasionally. Your information may be deleted and replaced by things you don't want. What will you do if your online information suddenly disappears?
Luckily, there is an easy answer: backupify
Backupify is an online service itself that performs daily automatic backups, archiving, and export for your data stored on many other online services. You can take back control of your online data with backupify.
Setting up backupify is easy. You first create a free account with the service (larger amounts of storage are available for a fee). You then enter your login credentials for each service you want to back up, and set your preferences. Backupify will take it from there. Daily backups are made automatically without further involvement from you. You will get regular emails confirming when your backups have completed. The backups are made at very high speeds as the data is transferred directly from one online service to another via very high speed lines. The speed of your Internet connection is irrelevant. In fact, this is probably the only effective method for dial-up users to back up large collections of online data.
All of your data is backed up on the Amazon cloud and fully follows Amazon's security and data duplication policies. In the unlikely event that something ever happens to backupify, you can easily contact Amazon to get your data back out.
Backupify will back up any one service free of charge as long as the amount of data is two gigabytes or less. A Premium account costs $39.95 a year (with a lower sale price in effect as I write these words) and will back up unlimited accounts to a maximum of ten gigabytes of stored data. Larger amounts of storage space are available at higher prices.
The online services, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Flickr, Google, and others are generally reliable but nothing is ever perfect. If you do not want to trust others to always "do the right thing," you will appreciate the extra insurance provided by backupify.
You can learn more at http://www.backupify.com
Thank you Dick Eastman, for your information and your generous "share" policy.



  1. I use SysCloudSoft’s online backup to backup my Gmail account and all my Google Apps data (Gmail, Google Docs,Google Sites,Google Calendar,Google Contacts).They offer a free Google Apps backup for all personal users - www.syscloudsoft.com