Monday, May 18, 2009

Dodging the Bullet: anyone have advice?

I'm slowly getting back together from a PC collapse that almost dumped my data. I have the core of it backed up to an external HD, and probably could have recovered 85% of it from that, but it got me thinking about how much I'd lose if something happened to both the PC and the HD...which are less than a foot apart, plugged into the same outlet.

So, readers: do any of you have suggestions/experience with online backup services, like Carbonite or SOS? Like to make some suggestions? First thing I did -- already -- was make a DVD backup of the most important stuff -- writing, contacts, e-mail -- and I'm going to put that in our safe deposit box. But I want something quicker and automatic.

Thanks for your help.

21 comments:

Tom Murin said...

I use Mozy for $5 a month. It automatically backs up the folders I select. I hope I never have to use it, but it is well worth the piece of mind. I had a scare with my prior PC and could not take a chance on losing all our digital photos.

Glenn said...

Bunches of these are out there, I'm sure there will be some fine suggestions. I am slightly paranoid about these sorts of things, since I don't like letting my really important data get out of my hands (even though I'm sure these services are trustworthy enough). My backup routine is much like yours (pc with backup hard drive) but with a little twist. I've got a big flash drive (usb drive etc..) that I keep current and most critical stuff on. Flash drives are so big now and pretty cheap that makes it easier.

Lew Bryson said...

I've done the flash thing too, Glenn, but where do you keep the flash drive? I want something off-site. I suppose I could keep a copy of the most important stuff on my laptop (where it would be useful anyway) and keep that by the door...but I'm starting to sound like a survivalist!

Ryan said...

Seconding Mozy. I run it at home and work, and have used it to restore some corrupted MP3s. I was impressed with the download speed. Once you get it setup it is fully automatic, you don't even have to think about it.

Glenn said...

"but where do you keep the flash drive? "

Generally in my pocket or in my bag I carry with me to work.

kmudrick said...

I use JungleDisk which actually uses Amazon S3 for its remote data storage. It is reliable and very secure - all your data is encrypted before it leaves your machine. It is probably a little bit more technically involved than Mozy or Carbonite, but I feel safer and more secure using this.

Steve Logan said...

I use both Carbonite (home) and Mozy (work). Each has distinct advantages and drawbacks. Carbonite is unlimited storage online, but the software is somewhat piggish in resources. The software seems less bloated with Mozy, but you have to pay by the GB.

Here's two other ideas to ponder. One is a big network hard drive (NAS) running 2 mirrored hard drives. I have a 3TB one (2 1.5TB drives) that cost less than $400 to put together and can handle all my digital photos and audio. If one drive dies, I (in theory) just have to swap it out and let it rebuild. I'm there's some software out there that would automatically sync My Documents to the NAS periodically so backups are automatic.

The other cool software I use is Dropbox (www.getdropbox.com). I have a Dropbox folder on my work PC, home PC and laptop - anything that I put in that folder is automatically replicated to the other PCs at system start. Great for keeping backup copies and sync'd copies of docs.

maureen said...

Mozy.

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

You really and truly have to examine a cost/benefit analysis to your actions. Trust me, if your house burns down, recovering ten-year-old digital photos is the least of your concerns. Ditto the value of your bytes if you were to keel over tomorrow. It's a different matter if, say, the destruction of your computer would simultaneously put three magazines out of business.

The problem I run into myself with going through the archives of many folks is that there accumulates so much chaff that there's not much reward in hacking through it to get at the wheat. The dilemma of constant backup is that because it's so easy to back up everything, everyone does, and nobody ever goes through and deletes now-worthless photos, articles, etc. Except, of course, for the occasional computer crash that deletes stuff involuntarily.

There now exist fireproof safes several steps up from the old-fashioned kind--waterproof, heatproof enough for magnetic media, and designed to hold external hard drives and thumb drives.

Lew Bryson said...

Sandy,

If I keel over, believe me, the security of various magazines will be the last thing on my mind -- no, wait, they won't! But if my house burns down and I lose all my files and contacts, my business would take a substantial hit. If losing the computer would put other businesses under, I'd be expecting them to pay for this.

I do go back in my files regularly: it's 15 years worth of beer travel, notes, and interviews. The pictures I archive to CD every year. But if I'm looking at an on-line backup service that costs, say, $50 a year, vs. a fireproof that's a minimum of $300 for 2 hours protection? The backup service looks pretty good, especially when you consider that I can access it anywhere, anytime.

As a former librarian, I hear you loud and clear; and rest assured, I'm cognizant of it. And we're talking computer files, of course: losing my paper files and years of reference books would be painful, but I could recover.

Nadya said...

You can check out new CloudBerry Online Backup powered by Amazon S3. It has friendly user interface, scheduling capabilities and provides unlimited data storage. You can sign-up for beta at cloudberrydrive.com

Spencer said...

I'm using Mozy. It's been "set and forget" for me, and the peace of mind is worth it. I haven't tried restoring files yet (knock on wood), so I don't know how well that works.

pleia2 said...

Another vote for JungleDisk here. Plus it's more cross-platform - great if you're using Windows, Mac or Linux :)

Anonymous said...

BackupReview.info publishes the top 25 online backup companies on a monthly basis. Here is for May 2009:
http://www.backupreview.info/2009/05/01/top-25-for-may-2009/

Marc said...

I use Mozy for both my business and personal files.

okbrewer said...

Lew, If you do the flash drive back up, and are concerned about where then to put the flash drive, invest in one of those small closet safes. They are secure and fire proof. Many can also be secured to the floor or a wall to be more permanent.

mybeerbuzz said...

One little caution Lew...be a little careful of the automatic on-line archiving setting. All too many times I've seen someone have a critical file damaged or worse yet infected with a virus...only to have Mister nightly auto-backup schedule copy the damaged file out to the archive and hose all copies at once. Personally I sync our two home computers daily to each other, our network storage at home weekly and our off-site storage monthly. I now sleep peacfully in the quiet confidence that my wife's cheeseburger-cat pictures are safe.

Joe said...

check out this link:

http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/007641.html

lengthy conversation (spanning 3 years..) of using Amazon S3 - might take some messing around but it is off site and you can count on it being there when you need it.

hamachi said...

look at crashplan as well. they do versioning and it runs on macs and can handle network mapped storage.

easy to use and restore

Brew.Drink.Repeat. said...

So, did you make a choice? Which one, and how's it working out for you?

I'm right in the middle of this decision myself, and I'm leaning towards Jungle Disk as they seem to be the most Mac-friendly and you can archive in addition to just running an incremental backup.

boblizen said...

Securing your digital content is very important. Backing up locally to an external hard drive or an USB key should be complimented by backing up your data offsite. Online backup services like SOS Online Backup helps secure your data offsite, safe from viruses, crash, theft or even a natural disaster.

cheers,
Bob
SOS Online Backup