Home Backup: Philosophy

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series A Home Data Backup Solution
What can possibly go wrong?

When you think about protecting your digital life there are a number of things that can wipe out everything electronic that you have if you’re not prepared.

  1. The most likely thing to happen is that you or someone else will accidentally delete a file or folder from your computer. It has happened to me more than once and I’m sure will happen again.
  2. The second most likely thing is that your hard drive will fail where all your information and media is stored. I have lived through one hard drive failure since 2001 and know a number of people at work so have had failures. It is more common than you think.

These two things can become a non-issue by keeping a “local backup” which would let you quickly and easily recover your photos and documents.

But what if something much more terrible happens – your computers and drives all get stolen, your house burns down, or you have a massive flood that destroys all your local copies? Now you need to think about “off-site” backup. Don’t get scared, it’s not as tricky or expensive as you might imagine

The point is to have multiple copies of your data quickly and easily available any time you need it.

It. Must. Be. Automatic.

A number of years ago I thought “backing up” meant burning a CD once in a while and throwing it in the drawer. Then I thought making a backup meant copying some stuff to a small external hard drive whenever I remembered. And I thought that “off site”  meant talking the hard drive to work and storing it in my desk drawer. While better than doing nothing it was a manual process that required me to actually DO something, and as a result after a month or so it rarely got done. Maybe you are more diligent than I was. Maybe not.

This is not what I am suggesting you do. Everything I outline is automated and can be executed daily or even multiple times per day depending on how paranoid YOU are and how much you care about your photos and other digital information.

Backup or Redundancy?

Let me make one simple comment regarding backup versus redundancy. Many people buy Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, or home build fancy NAS devices with RAID drive arrays. While these setups are great to protect you from a single hard drive failure, in most cases a consumer level RAID array should not be considered a BACKUP. While a home NAS can survive a single drive failure depending on configuration, they may not be able to survive a drive controller failure. Also, since most drives in a home NAS are typically the same age and have had nearly identical use, in some raid configurations it is not uncommon to lose a second drive during the rebuild process. In my opinion you still need to back up your NAS. I have a NAS and I back mine up every night…

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