On the importance of backing up

Last year I had a hard drive fail on my. A Seagate. I know some people don’t like Seagate, but I’ve used them for nearly 30 years, or at least as far back as I can remember, and before this I’ve never seen one fail before.

I remember the breeze block sized 10Mb MFM’s that used to fill with bad sectors if you didn’t park the drive heads before shutting down.

I remember the change to smaller, faster RLL drives, vaguely.

I certainly recall the move to IDE and later EIDE and SCSI’s

I certainly recall failures from Western Digital (who Seagate later took over)

I vehemently recall all the trouble with Fujitsu, the MILLIONS of people affected and Fujitsu’s attempts to cover it up, deny it, then wash their hands of any warrantees.

I also recall an Indian manufacture – Palantine, or something like that – that excelled with 100% failure rate from a crate of them.

But Seagate, no, never a one … and it makes you careless..

I still have backups on various formats of tape like qic-40, on 3.5″ floppy, on 5 1/4″ floppy even and used to religiously follow the 3 step backup (grandfather, father, son).

Around 1995 CD-R became more affordable and it was little trouble to back up everything once a week, once a month, as required.

Computer backup and storage formats

Somewhere around 2004 I moved up to DVD-R, then as files got bigger, and bigger and BIGGER I moved up to backing up to Blu-Ray and to external USB harddrives. I even mirrored and stashed away an internal sata drive as a backup. Some stuff I stored on my web server. I keep copies in other places, too, ‘cos if you have all your eggs in one basket…

So over the years my backups have grown from text files filling up 360kb floppies to tape streamers to 600Mb CDs to monstrously bloated 25, 50Gb, 200Gb+ affairs. And the bigger they get, the less you want to do it.

So, with an unpleasant grind, crunch and splutter, my 250Gb Seagate drive curled up and died. And that’s when I realised I hadn’t done a backup in months, despite buying a blu-ray writer specifically for it.

So, lost forever are some christmas and winter photos, and a few text files, one with 6 months of notes I’d been meaning to type one day. Could have been far worse, and for many businesses that could – and probably would instead have led to bankruptcy. There are data recovery specialists but for a few photos and notes, never be worth the cost to recover.

The one thing I do recall losing is the title of a song I’d spent years trying to find. I finally found it, put it in a ‘to do’ list – and lost it :S. For some reason I didn’t even put in on mySpotify or blim.fm lists either. Always the little things, eh.

Here’s the big question: What haven’t you backed up lately? Worst case scenario, you lose everything, like, perhaps…

: all your game saves
: irreplaceable photos,
: your Master’s or Ph.D dissertation (does happen and few recover from the loss)
: your works / business accounts,
: the bestseller you’ve been writing for the last 3 years
: all your game saves
: your entire iPod mp3 library

How much will you lose? Backup up today!

  1 comment for “On the importance of backing up

  1. 21 March, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Great article. I think you have hit the nail on the head, its now a size thing.
    Floppies took seconds and 9 times out of 10 the data was safe, however when your transferring terras and terras worth of data to your nas drive or external hard drive and all the hassle of ghosting drives / mirroring and everything else you need to do to make sure you don’t loose your data it becomes extremely time consuming, not to mention testing the backup afterwards.

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