World Backup Day: Do you backup your files?

Backups are like flossing: Everyone knows it's important, but many people fail to take the time to protect their digital life. Although a lot of data is automatically protected in the cloud, most people have at least some data that's important to them that they fail to make backups for. This is even more pronounced in businesses where many organizations backup their servers but forget about the data that resides on an employee's computer.

Every March 31st is World Backup Day and the mission is to raise awareness of digital backups (and recovery!!!) by using a humorous tagline of, "Don't be an April Fool." It's important to remember that a disaster can strike at any time and will probably be something you aren't expecting, and to help illustrate the point, we interviewed A.J. Meyer, co-founder of GoKart Labs, and Andrew Renz, Principal Architect at Code42.

Meyer talked about a flood that hit his company's office in downtown Minneapolis. Being on the 5th floor, they never thought they'd have to worry about flooding, but a water main in the building broke, sending 300 gallons of water per minute through the building. Luckily the company knew they had solid backups using Crashplan, and were able to get up and running in less than 12 hours. Meyer quipped, "It took us longer to find new office furniture than it did to get up and running."

Our chat with Renz yielded similar stories, including one where an executive from a large social media company accidentally left their laptop in a cab an hour before a big presentation. Unfazed, he purchased a new laptop, installed Crashplan, and recovered the presentation he was working on. The key, Renz noted, was to make backups completely transparent to the end user. Even the most well intentioned people can forget to make a manual backup, but if it's constantly running in the background and doesn't impact your work at all, you'll always have your data available in a disaster.

So our question for you is: Do you have consistent backups (that you confirm with occasional restores!), or are you living on the edge?


How do you backup your data?

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>>World Backup Day: Do you backup your files?

Yes, on a pair of old USB 2.0 Seagate external hard drives and an old USB 2.0 netbook hard drive in an enclosure.

I have absolutely nothing on any of the computers that are worth backing up and if my house burned to the ground, Windows wouldn't even be important then.


Ever since I switched to a Mac (about a year ago) I was taking Time Machine backups but using a USB HDD which I would periodically connect whenever OSX complained it hadn't backed up in a few weeks.

Recently decided enough was enough, and read about some projects where people convert a Raspberry Pi into a 'homemade' Time Capsule. I'd have liked the real thing but on principle alone could not bring myself to spend the nearly £200 for an Apple one, so the Raspberry Pi (starter kit - £41) plus my existing external 1TB USB HDD enabled me to quite easily build a wireless backup server. Now the Mac just backs up over WiFi from anywhere in my house, and I don't have to even think about it. Very pleased with the whole setup :)

The extremely simple process for anyone interested in doing the same, can be found here:

Once Raspbian was installed, it only took a couple more minutes to get the packages installed and configuration done.

Tired from years of taking phone calls from friends who lost everything with a hard drive crash, I'm now a backup freak. All PCs used to backup each night to WHSv1 - now Acronis and a Synology NAS. Data is replicated to another state via CrashPlan (a friend and I share disk space for each other's backups). I take a monthly snapshot of important stuff (mostly family photos) via 1 of 2 portable 4TB drives and take it to work - and bring back last month's 'old' snapshot and keep it home until 30 days, then rinse and repeat. For extra measure, OneDrive has a copy of my family photos and critical financial records (encrypted, of course). Except for the manual snapshot each month, it's all automated; completely hands-free.

I make periodic disk images of my laptop and desktop systems to a 2nd hard drive (external for the laptop/internal for the desktop) to be restored in case of an emergency. Multiple images are maintained (deleting older ones as new ones are made) as well as clean installations of the operating system (with updates and drivers) for restoring the system to a "just bought" state. I've started using online backups (Skydrive/Dropbox) but I'm reluctant to rely on them over a copy I maintain locally.

With 1TB of Google Drive, I also started backing up there. But I also have a physical backup drive. All of my secure documents go in an offline backup. Not that I don't trust Microsoft or Google; I just don't trust those who wish to circumvent their systems.

Full Image twice a month or before I do any major changes at home. Incremental change by change backups at work to a NAS.

Hmmm... can't decide whether this article is primarily promoting backing up your data, or just simple a big advert for CrashPlan!??

GreatMarkO said,
Hmmm... can't decide whether this article is primarily promoting backing up your data, or just simple a big advert for CrashPlan!??

World Backup Day. We covered it last year too. :)
That said, this year Crashplan reached out to us and asked if we wanted to interview folks so we took them up on the offer. No compensation was given though, it was just to give more stories to put in the article. :)

Fezmid said,
World Backup Day. We covered it last year too. :)
That said, this year Crashplan reached out to us and asked if we wanted to interview folks so we took them up on the offer. No compensation was given though, it was just to give more stories to put in the article. :)

So, it *is* a blatant ad, whether you got paid for it or not--you're promoting them and passing it off as an article. It's called native advertising, and it's an ugly trend.

As for myself: I always buy hard drives in pairs for backup purposes. One sits (disconnected) on my desk, the other is at the office 40 miles away. They get rotated once a month. Last time I was running out of room on my backup drives (2TB), I bought a pair of larger ones (4TB), and both older drives went to the machine that needed them the most (my VM host).

I generally don't store "data" on any of my desktops/laptops--everything goes on a NAS. The one exception (the VM host) gets its VHD files backed up as a whole. So there's only two machines that have files that get backed up.

I no longer back up a physical machine's OS as I have nothing installed on it other than drivers, which are already organized by machine on my NAS. If I've been working offline on source code on my laptop, it gets synched back to source control, which is running on one of my VMs, so the laptop doesn't need to be backed up either.

I don't back up to the cloud. I only use OneDrive to keep a small set of no-install, SysInternals type of utilities in sync between computers.

Crashplan is a good product, I think you need to get over yourself a bit. Your setup leaves you up to a month exposed if your house burns down - not acceptable in most scenarios if you ask me, but if it meets your tolerance for data loss so be it.

Any way possible to get people to back up their data is a good thing, not a bad thing. Chill out.

Steve Galbincea said,
Crashplan is a good product,

Where did I say it was not?

Steve Galbincea said,
Your setup leaves you up to a month exposed if your house burns down

*If* the house happens to burn down the day before I'm due to swap the drives. Nobody's holding me to that schedule either. I can do it as frequently or infrequently as I want. The majority of my data doesn't change so much within a one-month period that losing anything that happens during that month is a huge setback.

I like to be proactive and efficient.

I don't like to do manual backups as much as I don't like to have programs running in the background that sync everything with the cloud.

So, my solution when it comes to safeguarding my data is redundancy (disk mirroring), that is having two or more copies of data, data that's being written on the fly (RAID1).

Time Machine (every computer should have this) and Dropbox for offsite backup of some important files in a disk image with encryption.

I use CrashPlan for nearly a year now, I signed for a multi-year subscription. It's installed on my synology (intel cpu) nas drive, and backing up nearly 1Tb of data. I also backup my work computer remotely to my home nas for backing up that data.

Crashplan works rather well, and it's very reasonably priced given what it does. I actually recommended it to small business owners which give it a lot of praise.

It's not perfect though - on officially supported setups (more on that below) you will need to have over 1Gb of RAM just for the java-based application if you're thinking of backing up a lot of files +500k) and/or a high volume of data (~1Tb). On the other hand you will get some connection issues from time to time (not too often, but it does occur, sometimes for a couple of days). This happens for no apparent reason (rebooting or restarting the service does the trick), but it is very inconvenient. My guess it's that it's got to do with fact the app is java based, which makes it prone for breaking every so often.

On non offially supported devices (e.g. my case, with a synology nas) it gets trickier. Even though it's installable using the graphical interface DSM, you will probably need to know how to properly configure it using ssh at some point, especially if you're getting a lot of files and volume of data backed up (1Gb is not enough for the numbers I typed before).

All in all, I guess nowadays I don't worry too much about my data. I have lost data before on failed hard-drives and solutions like CrashPlan and Synology NAS disk redundancy make it less of a realistic scenario.

If they want some honest answers they're missing an important option: "I don't backup but will... any day now!" Seriously, most people look into regular backups only after experiencing the pain of losing important data.

Just cloud for files on personal computer, apps and os cam be installed very fast on my ssd (win 8, into ms account for files to start to sync, ie favourites, WiFi network sync, email app setup, then install office, adobe cs, sql server data tools, updates, done)

At home I have an onsite backup, that's it. There was a time where I had two backups, but I found that to be pretty unnecessary for my own personal use.

My important files are synced between my Macbook Air and my iMac using Dropbox, which also backs everything up online. Plus the iMac is backed up with Time Machine to a hard drive attached to my Airport Extreme.

So my house could burn down and I would still have the really important stuff, other wise my data is still in at the very least 2 physical devices

I don't actually have anything worth backing up. Don't take too much pictures, have barely any songs on my PC anymore (used to have over 200gb and the formated while drunk, god damn it), don't store any critical data. Well, I'm an boring person lol.

Pictures/video and music to two external HDDs one if which goes to a relatives house. The other stays local. Also, pictures/videos to an internal HDD. Would love to back the HTPC up but that's costly. There's 13TB there with another 6TB on the way. Would cost too much to back it all up.

The built-in Windows 7 backup is good enough for me , plus some odd stuff on other hard drives.
I haven't got that much to be concerned about really , I'd be far more worried about my vinyl LP's going up in smoke since they are worth a lot more than anything else!!

My desktop personal files backed up to a 1TB external drive and college files on OneDrive. My tablet and laptop I don't really care to backup.

Only family photos are worthwhile to me, so backing up is pretty easy for our household. To the cloud and good ole DVD's. I am really not concerned about backing up my whole operating system. I could easily get up and running in about an hour or two in the event of a hardware failure.

JHBrown said,
Only family photos are worthwhile to me, so backing up is pretty easy for our household. To the cloud and good ole DVD's. I am really not concerned about backing up my whole operating system. I could easily get up and running in about an hour or two in the event of a hardware failure.

Family pictures and videos.

Along side my code I've written over the years, these are the most important things to me.

Recently my bank kept pestering me to go in for some contents insurance. Eventually I went after they gave me a small cash incentive into my account.

It turns out, they can't replace my files, videos and code if they were lost in say a house fire. Everything else, I can replace myself and yet they just couldn't grasp that. I'm not sure why house content insurance doesn't come with digital backup.

Anyway for me, and my reluctant family, I've been backup up my documents since I've had access to a CD writer and pretty much forced my family to hold onto a copy of my backup at their house.

I now do a weekly backup to DVD-RW of my most important files, and a monthly backup to DVDR that I get my family to exchange with their backups.

On top of that, I have a NAS/time machine at home.

Twice now, I've had a family PC die and they've come to me for their backups and they're thankful I made them start doing it. Luckily there hasn't been a flood or fire etc that's taken out more then just the PC yet.

I highly recommend anyone try and setup a backup exchange with family or friends you can trust will keep them safe for you.

However, even now, my general photography library is at 22GB right now. I could probably delete a lot of them, but even then it's going to be expensive and a struggle to backup to DVD as often as I'd like, yet still cheaper then bluray discs. When I look at my videos I've recorded in the years gone by, there is no way I can backup them to DVD. There is over 800GB of video at the moment and thats after I've recompressed it.

Most of the important videos, like birthdays, weddings and videos of pets and family that have passed are on youtube now, but I hate how even thought they're private videos they've made me have adverts on them because some music was being played in the background they've picked up.
Still, better then having my home back up trashed and having nothing at all.

My personal thoughts on cloud hosting for backup... not really in favour of it. To have a backup to be erased by someone knowing your login details or the site getting hacked isn't something I'm prepared to trust online, and then you do rely upon a fast enough internet connection.

I'm quite lucky at the moment, I have 20MB/s connection now, but just 2 years ago, I was struggling with a 4Mbit (at best) line. I know there are a lot of people who have worse connection then that.