Not backing up? There’s No Excuse.

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve heard the cry of the user-in-denial. The wailing and weeping over the fact that they’ve lost all of their files forever. All of their documents, all of their precious photos, their accounting files and history, scanned paid bills, scanned receipts, their family videos: All gone. Forever. As if they never existed.

Seriously, this so avoidable that I just don’t feel sorry for them. It’s happened to me, and it will happen to anybody that doesn’t take a proactive approach to safeguarding your digital property.

A lot of times the problem is that the person just doesn’t know any better. They buy computers from a box store and think of it as an appliance, like a TV or VCR. But it’s not an appliance, and they learn this the hard way, unfortunately.

But the disturbing part is that it’s not just the novices or technically challenged or casual users that make this mistake. This happens to people who should know better. Professionals. People who’ve used computers for years.

Hard drives fail. It’s a fact of life. I have a stack of failed hard drives on the workbench in my garage just waiting to be physically destroyed. Here’s a picture:

Stack of dead hard drives just waiting to be destroyed

That’s proof that not backing up is a dangerous mistake.

Recently I was working on a video editing project when suddenly my computer crashed with the dreaded BSOD (blue screen of death). It wouldn’t restart. I got it to restart once but had to click OK on a few hundred Windows Explorer Fatal Errors. Which, incidentally, took seemingly forever to get through. I performed a system restore, which took another two or more hours. After the system restore, several of my important programs would not start. Now, I can’t work with a computer that isn’t 100% rock solid. I have a lot of programs installed that I use in my business, and I need every one of them to work properly in order to do client work. When I tried to repair them (the broken programs), they were missing from the Programs and Features list in the Control Panel. Quite a few font files and other files were corrupted. The font files were needed by Windows and the computer simply wouldn’t run without them. There were a lot of problems, and there was no way I was going to fix them manually.

So, what did I do? I purchased new hard drives and restored the entire system from a backup. I use ShadowProtect for my primary backup system, which performs a full backup weekly and incremental backups during the week, overnight, to a 3 Terabyte external hard drive. I keep about 2 weeks worth of backups on that hard drive. I also have a Windows Home Server with client software which keeps daily backups for 7 14 days, weekly backups for 5 weeks, and monthly backups for 6 months. If I really need to retrieve a deleted file that’s more than a couple of weeks old, this is where I get it from.

So after I restored from the backup, what about the files I added or updated since the backup was performed the previous evening? I use Dropbox for all of my personal files, which stores copies up on “the cloud”. Files that are added or updated are automatically saved to my Dropbox in the cloud. Even if I didn’t have a backup and had to reinstall everything from scratch, all of my important files are safely duplicated in the cloud and I can restore them to a brand new machine and go right back to work.

The moral of the story? You should always have at least two backup systems in place so you can recover your digital property in the event of a disaster. I have three backup systems on my work computers and two backup systems on every computer in the house. There are a multitude of things that can cause you to lose your files: fire, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and of course hard drive crashes and computer malfunctions.

Now go and get your Backup Strategy going. If you need help, we offer consulting services to help you define and implement a home backup strategy that incorporates local backups and cloud services.