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by Jason Whong

How to back up your data

Read this article. It could be one of the most enlightening things you've ever read. It's about making backup copies, and how to do it wisely.

Why should you back up your data? Not just because it is the right thing to do; it's the practical thing to do.

Consider this - most of NASA's spacecraft had 2 of every important system installed, so that if the primary system failed, they'd be able switch to the secondary system without having to abort their mission. Most of the times, these secondaty systems aren't used at all, but they are still critical, and astrnauts won't fly without that kind of assurance.

NASA kept redundant electronics systems in reserve! Luckily, you probably don't have to do that in order to protect yourself and your productivity. But you should probably keep redundant copies of your data anyway.

Making a backup of your data is very practical, because hard drives are mechanical, and they are destined to failure at some point. Additionally, a bad crash can cause problems on your disk, which are not easy to repair.

Imagine how you'll feel when 30 seconds before that paper is due, smoke comes out of your computer, and it emanates the sounds of squealing pigs. Can you imagine what your teacher or boss would say when you had to hand it in?

So, take some steps to avoid the nightmare.

A little story about backing up

Some people think that if they make a single backup, they're set for life. Wrong-o. I knew a woman once who paid someone to make backups of her IBM clone. He came in and copied a bunch of files to her disk. She figured she had done the right thing.

When her database was corrupted, she was unpleasantly surprised. She called me and asked me to restore the backups. I looked at her disks - some were unlabeled, some were unprotected, and I didn't have the slightest idea of where to begin.

The backups were two years old, and the man who had made them was unreachable. All of her company's data was on that machine, and it was gone. And there was a pile of ancient disks, which she called a "backup."

The dirty little secret of backing up is the fact that a backup can only be considered a backup if you know how to get your data from it when you need to.

The more obvious secret of backing up is that you have to do it more than once. Even if I had managed to restore all of the data from her backup, it would have been two years old. It was completely useless for her.

Good backup strategy

If you want to back up your data, but aren't sure where to start, here are a few tips:

I guess that's all I have to say for now. Drink milk, and eat lots of celery.

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