Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Computer Backup Rule of Three

Appreciated the clarity of this backup strategy


Begin forwarded message:

From: "Scott Hanselman" <>

Scott Hanselman's Blog

The Computer Backup Rule of Three

Hard drive failure. Seriously. - Used under CC. Photo by Jon RossI'm ALWAYS pounding people to backup. I will continue. BACKUP YOUR STUFF. If you care about it, back it up.

Let's talk. Yes, I'm talking to you, non-technical friend. You're a writer, a blogger, not a techie. I get that. Can't be bothered, I get that. Very busy. You will be even busier when you lose access to your dropbox, or leave your laptop on a train.

Please. Read. Tell your friends.

These are NOT backups

Here are some things that are NOT backups. Feel free to tweet or Facebook them to shame educate your family.

  • Backing up your laptop to an SD Card in the same laptop is #notabackup
  • Backing up to a hard drive that is 6 inches away from your computer is #notabackup
  • Backing up your Gmail to another Gmail account is #notabackup
  • Backing up your book by copying it to another folder is #notabackup
  • The photos that are still in your camera memory are #notabackup

Do you have any other good examples?

The Backup Rule of Three

Here's the rule of three. It's a long time computer-person rule of thumb that you can apply to your life now. It's also called the Backup 3-2-1 rule.

  • 3 copies of anything you care about - Two isn't enough if it's important.
  • 2 different formats - Example: Dropbox+DVDs or Hard Drive+Memory Stick or CD+Crash Plan, or more
  • 1 off-site backup - If the house burns down, how will you get your memories back?

Why so paranoid?

Simple. Because I care about my work, photos and data and I would be sad if I lost it.

Think about all the times you've heard about a friend who has lost everything. A decade of photos. Years of email. It hurts-  just like exercise - because it's good for you.

Try restoring from a backup to practice. Backups always succeed. It's restores that fail.

What should l do?

I think at a minimum folks should do this.

  • Have TWO physical backups (hard drive, memory card) with a copy of everything, at least weekly. You can automate this.
  • Backup everything that has data that matters. That means phones, too.
  • Have a cloud backup storage (CrashPlan, DropBox, SkyDrive, something)
  • Don't trust the cloud. I backup my gmail, too.
  • Rotate the physical backups between your house and somewhere else. I use the safety deposit box. You can use your Mama's house. Just label one "Backup A" and one "Backup B" and when you visit, swap them.

Recommended Reading

Here's some other blog posts on the topic of backup. Now, take action.

© 2012 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.

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