Backing up files

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If you only have a single copy of your important files, take yourself outside and beat yourself to death with your own shoes. When you lose everything you'll feel sick in your stomach for weeks. Most people have at least one significant loss of work every two year (and NUMEROUS occasions where they might lose a day of work). Whether you lose an minute's worth of work, an hour, a day, or everything (I and I mean everything) is up to you. Programs OFTEN crash (especially on windows), so save every five minutes.


Lifespan of Stored Media

Device:             Typical lifespan:
Hard drive            5-10 years        *(may be less)
Burnt CDs & DVDs      2-5  years


Backup Files

If you only have a single copy of your important files, take yourself outside and beat yourself to death with your own shoes. When you lose everything you'll feel sick to your stomach for weeks. Most people have at least one significant loss of work every two year (and NUMEROUS occasions where they might lose a day of work). Whether you lose an minute's worth of work, an hour, a day, or everything (I and I mean everything) is up to you. Programs OFTEN crash (especially on windows), so save every five minutes.

When you have a big piece of work in a folder, it's often a good idea to copy the whole file or folder occasionally and rename it to <foldername_or_file_name>_backup1. This protects against "people errors" where you might, for example, accidentally delete something important in a file and then save it. If you are familiar with version control software, even better. It's not uncommon to accidentally delete/modify something you need and then lose it by saving, which is why you need historical backups.


Backup Everything

The worst way you can lose is when hardware fails, and hardware fails all the time (see above). If you think your hard-drive will last forever you are a fool! Hard-drives have a finite life expectancy, and will often just die suddenly after a few years and need replacing... and you will lose everything. My advice is to have two hard-drives, and use a program like "Second Copy", to automatically copy/update all the contents of your "My Documents" folder to your backup hard drive every week (or every day if you specify it). If you lose one of your hard-drive (due to hardware failure or virus) your work will hopefully still exist on the other hard-drive. I also suggest copy your important work to CD-Rs or external hard drives / USB drives every so often, label them, and keep them somewhere safe. If you're a safety freak you might even keep backups in a separate geographical location. So stay safe and backup regularly.


Backing Up To A Cloud

Depending on how many many GB you have to backup, I suggest you might consider backing all your files up to cloud storage. With any good storage clouds you are unlikely to ever lose this data as they will have pretty solid redundancy systems (they do lots of their own backup).

My favorite cloud storage is: "Google Drive", which gives you 15 GB free storage (as of Aug 2013). The advantage of backing up to a cloud is that you can then access that data anywhere. The disadvantage is that the backing up itself is pretty show, and not many of the cloud systems have a syncronization system where they help keep those files on your computer and the cloud (just in case your internet goes down). One exception is "DropBox" which gives 2GB free and syncs a particular "Dropbox" folder on your PC or Mac with stuff on the cloud. Very cool system. There are similar systems out there, but the two I listed are two of the best.  :)


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