The Unthinkable Just Happened – 6 Years Of Digital Pictures…Gone!

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Fortunately, I had about 16 different backups of them…so it wasn’t as bad as it sounded.

But, what if that just happened to you?

What if your hard drive failed?
What if Windows just went crazy and won’t boot?
What if your computer just failed and you can’t turn it on?
What if you got a virus that wiped out your data?

Would you lose all the digital pictures of your kids? Would you lose years of work? Home movies? Contacts? Excel Docs? Bookmarks? Emails?

My hard drive that just failed was less than 6 months old.

This was probably the 8th hard drive I’ve had fail in the past 8 years.

HARD DRIVES FAIL!!! It’s only a matter of time…PERIOD. Every hard drive WILL fail.

This post is about being prepared for that.

If you’re not making regular backups of your computer, you are literally playing Russian roulette.

So, let me tell you the things I do, the things you can do right now to take care of this so you can sleep better at night:

1. Use Mozy. It costs $5/month for unlimited automatic backups. You set it up initially (which, shouldn’t take you very long because it will automatically backup lots of documents for you) and then it goes to work. Every day it backs up the stuff that has changed on your computer since the last time it made a backup.
You MUST do off-site backups! Mozy accomplishes this for you automatically. You never have to think about it again.

2. Buy a 500GB external hard drive like this:
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/857763
or even:
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/856410
(**Note**: Both of those links go to fatwallet.com where people have found a great deal on something.)
Most large external hard drives will make automatic backups of your computer for you. They come with software for it.

Now, you have an automatic backup that happens every day that’s attached to your computer. If your computer fails, you can immediately restore your data.
If your house burns down, or floods, or your computer gets Kool-aid spilt on it, you also have a backup online that you can download (mozy).

Doing both of these things will take you less than 1 hour, and you will be protected against data loss.

3. Now, how about your website? Do you back that up too?

Oh, your hosting company makes backups for you?

WRONG!!!

Don’t ever trust your hosting company to make backups for you. They don’t do them as often as they say they do, their backups are rarely complete, and I’ve seen them screw up backups multiple times.

I use rsync to make backups of my web hosting accounts.

I use RIBS to manage what rsync does (rsync is an exceptionally complicated program. RIBS is a php script that will run rsync for you and gives you ton’s of options). This is something that would be a perfect task to give to one of the guys you hire in the Philippines to have them implement for you (or maybe someone on elance?).

I set up RIBS on a $6/month hosting account, and it backs up all my other hosting accounts. I set it up to back them up every 8 hours.

4. Do you backup your cell phone? Why not?
Look at this:
http://lifehacker.com/software/cell-phones/backup-your-cell-phone-data-with-bitpim-174785.php
Here’s how I do it on my blackberry. I use Funambol to sync my contacts to ScheduleWorld. I do this because it can happen over the air, so I don’t have to plug in my blackberry in order to back it up.

5. I use Flickr.com to do another backup of my digital pictures and videos. It’s $25/year for an unlimited account, it’s a great backup of my pictures and it puts my pictures online for easy sharing, and they have good tools for easy uploading.

There are 3 keys to remember in setting up these backups:
1. It has to be automated. If you have to do it yourself, it won’t get done.
2. It has to be reliable. Make sure you have multiple backups.
3. It has to be regular. Don’t make backups once a month. Imaging losing a whole month’s work.

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