Monthly Archives: August 2010

The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Archiving

31 August 2010, by Ariadne Cedilla

What’s the purpose of archiving your electronic data?

Preservation. Simply put, archiving, in this sense, is preservation. Of memories (vacation photos, wedding videos, the Family Reunion Of Which You Do Not Speak Of, etc.) and data (like photographs, business documents, scripts, novels, music etc.) that are static and won’t change.

Revisions and retouching aside, archiving stabilizes and stores a set of information that you can use for reference, proof and perhaps most vital of all, connection.

  • Need the very first “final version” of the company handbook before the current set of revisions got too bulky? Here you go.
  • A lawsuit is threatening to come down on your company due to what the opposition claims is shoddy work? You pull out the pics to prove it just ain’t so.
  • A dispute rises over the contract? You got it in writing, and with the digital signatures all in place.
  • You have a lifetime’s worth of photographs. You want it to last beyond your lifetime, so your great-grands can get to know you even after you’re gone.
  • Want to show your kids that yes, Mama was a natural blonde before puberty hit and her hair got darker? Sure.
  • Your in-laws want to see the ultrasound? You want your as-yet-unbaked bun-in-the-oven to get to see it? You got it.
  • You have something you need to say, something you want the world to know. Share it across time.

Insurance (as back-up) is secondary (but a close second) in this case. If you’ve done your back ups according to plan, you’re covering those bases. Archiving is simply making sure that any data you have that’s important to you is stored, safely, uncorrupted, and available in a way/medium that will survive time and technological changes.
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The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Online Data and Syncing

In Protect Your Data, we set-up the basic guidelines in making a back-up plan. In this section, we’ll cover a few more things you can do to keeping the your online data safe and synced.

The issues:

  • It’s definitely simpler to do back up when you only have one computer, but what if you have more? And what if you’re not the only user?
  • Plus, you probably have other data, on-line, that you want backed up as well.

So, this article will lay out the issues with multiple computers, multiple users and backing up your on-line data.

  1. A single user with one PC is the simplest scenario. Maybe two external hard-drives (one back-up is not enough!), a CD/DVD burner, and some high quality blank optical media should be good enough to start with. Pull on-line storage like Mozy, Dropbox and Carbonite into the mix, you can secure your data easily. Flash drives can be life-savers as well.
  2. Single user, many PCs/devices would require syncing software (Dropbox offers this with its online storage as well), a detailed schedule for back ups, and more thought as to what you need to back up, and where. RAID array, a home server, online storage? The speed of your internet connection will also affect upload and download times.
  3. Many users, one PC means also backing up various profiles and personal data. You have to hammer out agreements as to what will be backed up and when would the best time to do it for the people involved.
  4. Many users, many PCs would involve syncing, and centralizing shared media, as well as customizing information access and flow. For personal units, it would be best if each user takes responsibility for his or her own data and unit.

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The SMART Guide to Back-ups: Protect Your Data

When it comes to backing up data, there are only 2 groups of people involved. The first group are people who have lost data, like those who have had hard-drives die on them, or were exposed to the Virus that Ate The Internet. The second covers those who haven’t had the pleasure of that particular experience. Yet.

But it’s only a matter of time, statistically speaking. And you can never predict when, or how it will happen. Brand new drives die a few days out of the box, while older ones faithfully chug on for years. You bed down for the night, as your laptops purrs on, worry-free. The next morning a howl of disbelief shatters the early morning silence of the dormitory. “I didn’t DO anything!”
“Are you sure, dude?”
“YES!”
“Uh, download anything new last night?”
“Nuh–oh?”

Then, “Oh, crap.”

The drive can’t be detected. The laptop falls due to your cat’s panicked antics, and you can’t get it to boot. Your sippy cup wasn’t fastened as tightly as you thought it was. Viruses, trojans, hackers and theft. Lightning strike, fire, water from a leaky pipe…you just don’t know.

Thus, back-up. There’s something you need to understand about back-up, though:

Back-up is not a guarantee, unless and until you test it (data verification) and even then, stuff happens. Back up is insurance, and as with any kind of insurance, back up comes in handy after a loss of some sort. See the difference now? And as with any kind of insurance, you need a plan that suits your needs.
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