Posts Tagged ‘Backing up’

Why it Pays to be Paranoid

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Oh, yes, it pays to be Paranoid

About backing up.

What do you mean my files are gone?

The subject came up recently. Of course, the subject of backups is highly relevant to my day job, so it’s something I think about a lot. And, several years ago, I learned a hard lesson about assuming 3rd parties will always be there or will give you enough time to get your files as opposed to, say, just turning off the server. I did, of course, have my own backups, but I still lost a lot of files. And what about people who were storing perfectly legitimate files on Megaupload? The US government concedes this is true, but 5 months after having taken control of the files on Megaupload, not one single file has been returned to legitimate users.

I love Dropbox, but what if the US government seizes them? Never ever ever rely on hardware or services you do not personally own as your only backup.


Remember, the Internet is NOT always there or available. I happen to live in a place where I don’t have true broadband. That means a service like Carbonite won’t work for me. I was thrilled when I found out Dropbox didn’t overwhelm our internet and allowed me to specify what I wanted there. When I write on my lunch hour, I don’t have an internet connection. Hello USB drive!

I ran through my process and yeah, I’m paranoid. But it pays off.

  1. I use Time Machine to back up my computer to an external drive. I have a total of 4 terabytes of external attached storage and sometimes I worry that’s not enough. Some of the storage is for legal reasons. (Google Jewel vs. NSA if you’re curious.)
  2. There are certain files I backup to other external drives.
  3. Since I run parallels, I make backups of the .pvm file to an external drive. That’s the fastest way to restore the virtual machine if something goes wrong. It’s a big file.
  4. I keep my writing files, website files and epublishing files synched with my laptop
  5. I synch those same files to a USB drive.
  6. I synch all those files plus others to dropbox. That makes it easy to keep files synched between the desktop, laptop, and iPad as well.
  7. Every night, I zip up files in the WIP, name it with date, and email that (as an attachment: to my gmail account with a subject of [WIP NAME] [Date]. In gmail, the email gets a label of “backup”
  8. The folder for every MS has a directory called Zips. Every zipped archive file is there. Which means it’s synched to dropbox.
  9. The folder for every MS has a directory called Current. At the end of every day, I copy all my MS files into it. That way I always have the previous day’s work right there. Every now and then, something goes wrong (often the problem is between the chair and the keyboard) and I have to recover by starting over for a certain chapter. The Current folder makes it easy to do that.

What do you do? What’s your backup and recovery strategy?