Monday, January 28, 2008

TGIF - January 28, 2008 - Backup Ideas

I received this question from an ELCA Youth Ministry Network Member in Kansas: What's the easiest way to do backups that will be stored offsite? We aren't doing any! (arrgh!)

Kudos for realizing that you should be doing backups! So should I and so should everyone else. I do backup some things, but I am not as attentive to it as I should be. This was a challenging question for me because I haven't paid as much attention to is as I should. So I am not able to make one good recommendation, but I will point out a couple of options. My current backup practice is redundancy. I keep things on my UFDs (see last week's post), on multiple computers at the office, and on a variety of online places. What else could I do? What else could you do?

I don't backup my e-mail because I don't have to. As you may guess from my earlier posts, I use a Google Mail ( account which currently gives me
6355.160193 (and counting) megabytes of storage for me e-mails and attachments. I'm only using about 5% of that space at the moment! All Google services are hosted on their servers and they redundantly back them up and keep them secure.

On my computer, I try and store everything that I might want back under a single folder. Windows makes this easy by providing the My Documents folder. If I use another program that wants to store its data somewhere else, I change the folder to be a sub-folder of My Documents. That way I know that copying that folder to another machines provides some level of backup. I routinely copy my laptop My Documents folder to a shared folder on our network.

You can use the built-in services that your operating system provides. Windows Vista Ultimate, which I am running, has a backup service built in, as do most other operating systems. You could use one of these to copy your data to a
portable hard drive, or to another machine on your network. As one example, is selling a SimpleTech SimpleDrive
that has 500GB of capacity for only $129.99. I would think that most church offices could copy all of their machines to a drive of that size. Then, of course, the drive needs to be carried elsewhere so that if the church burns down, the data isn't lost with it! And, of course, you need to remember to bring it back in and re-do it every week or so. If you are going to go with a physical backup system, this is probably the way to go. Otherwise you could find yourself going nuts with backup CDs and DVDs stacked to the ceiling.

There are also a variety of online options available. I am not going to try and list all of them here and I have not used most of them. They range from free to quite expensive in price. One of the currenlty free ones, Microsoft FolderShare (, allows you to synchronize files between multiple machines. If you set this up between a home desktop and an office desktop, that will keep your files in two places. Good backup security requires a third location as well, so ideally you would find a third machine to synchronize with as well.
  • These services provide automatic backup of data from one PC
    • Carbonite ( unlimited storage for $49.95/year
    • iDrive ( 2GB of storage for free; 50GB for $49.95/year
    • Mozy Online Backup ( 2GB of storage for free; unlimited for $4.95/month
  • These services provide space, but you must manually copy files to the service, often using a separate program. They generally allow sharing directly from the internet as well.
    • ADrive ( 50GB for free
    • MyOtherDrive ( 5GB for free; 25GB for $19.99/year; 75GB for $49.99/year; 200GB for $99.99/year
    • XDrive ( 5GB for free
    • OmniDrive ( 1GB for free; 10GB for $40/year; 25GB for $99/year; 50GB for $199/year
The time that most of us think about the ineffectiveness of our backup "solution" is about 45 seconds after we realize that our hard drive has crashed or the sprinkler system has ruined our computer and we don't have any of what we've spent years putting together. Planning ahead can make these sorts of tragedies a little less traumatizing.

No comments: