Backup Commentary (Technology)

(Update 22 Oct 2013)

Don’t like to backup your computer or phone?

The good news is that you don’t have to. No one will come to your house and point a pistol at your head for choosing to not do it. (Although such a business would be an interesting one to pitch to investors!)

On the other hand, please don’t cry in anguish when your computer or phone crashes and you suddenly have lost all the pictures of your favorite cat wearing a kimono.

You should assume that your computer will crash. It’s mechanical and uses moving parts. It is going to crash if you use it long enough. The longer you use it without it failing sadly means that it is MORE likely to crash and burn without notice.

Assuming you have internet…. If you don’t have internet, stop reading now. Everyone has access to free email and backup services. Did you write an important paper? Send it to yourself as an attachment, archiving it in a folder to maximize your organization and minimize distractions and terrible loss later. Synchronize your browser bookmarks or back them up to your computer. Don’t have time to do this? Where will those 10 seconds be when you’ve lost the only copy?

There are TONS of free services on the internet for backup. Sure, you can pay for them, too. OneDrive, Dropbox, etc. You can save all your pictures, even if you have 5,000 of them. All in the cloud. Since you will be also making a local backup on another hard drive, on DVD, or flash drive, too, you aren’t tied to worrying about all the servers at Microsoft melting, nor are you concerned about your house catching fire and eating your computer and DVD backups.You can also arrange with a friend to copy all your cherished stuff and send it to his/her house and he or she can send their cherished stuff home with you, if you don’t want your stuff on the cloud, too. 

Even if you promise yourself to connect your phone once YEARLY and copy your pictures and music, this is better than losing all of your content. You can surely promise to copy it once a year, if not more often.

If you don’t know how to make cd/dvd/flash drive backups of your pictures, music, documents, and bookmarks – you are ALREADY DOOMED! Seriously. You don’t have to know how to change a tire to own a car, but you need to know how to deal with it in an emergency. Making backup copies of your data is considered to be the most basic, absolutely essential computer task.
The technology we use on smartphones and computers is ALWAYS going to be changing. You will learn one thing today and will never be able to relax. The way you do things will constantly change. There’s only 1 rational choice: learn as it changes. If you can’t or won’t, be prepared to not only pay other people for the service of maintenance or repair, but also steel yourself against the inevitable total loss of everything you have stored on your electronic devices.

Want to be self-sufficient? Learn to Google. Learn and study which sites give the best advice. Compare site’s instructions. Experiment with it. It’s how I learned. Waiting until you know how to do something is a waste of time. Figure it out when there’s no pressure. I’m not smarter – just more persistent.

If you are too busy to learn computer basics, then you can and should expect to pay for other people to bail you out of your troubles. If your car breaks down, you call a tow truck and mechanic – and you pay them. If you want to save $, you either buy a reliable car, maintain it better or accept the need to be severely inconvenienced when your car breaks down. Your computer is the same.The difference is that a tire is just a tire, whereas a computer or phone might contain priceless or one-of-a-kind memories. I can easily think of a dozen people who have lost everything on their phones or computers. Several of them were quite literally ill thinking about what they had lost.

If you CHOOSE to NOT learn certain computer skills and how to backup data, please make arrangements for the time when your machine fails and/or you have lost the term paper that is due tomorrow. It is going to happen to everyone eventually. 

Best Buy taught me this harsh lesson, after I thought I already knew it. They “fixed” me out of a ton of music and pictures. I had to pay them for the privilege of breaking my computer. Even though the issue went all the way to the manager and then to corporate, I was put on the “hell list” of customers. Honestly, though, I cost Best buy way more business than they caused me in anguish. I got a valuable lesson out of it and I made it my mission to ensure that they lost a lot of business for a couple of years.

If I take pictures I wish to keep, I transfer them from the camera card to my computer. I then transfer the exact same copy to my wife’s computer. Then, I upload full-sized copies to my OneDrive account, automatically. (I don’t have to do anything – they copy without any other effort on my part.) At the end of each year, I make a new archive onto a usb stick. Even though I preach this constantly, even I have been known to delay uploading or backing up – and twice it has cost me considerable effort to attempt to reconstruct that which I’ve lost or misplaced.

Once weekly, I do an automatic 100% backup of my entire C drive to another drive. If the drive fails, I can have it restored in 20 minutes – entirely. I could do it daily, but I found it to be too redundant and beyond what I need.

I use dropbox as well, which is a nice redundant way to ensure I’m not peeling an empty banana. My important stuff is being saved somewhere, without my needing to manually find it, copy it, store it, etc. (The banana quote comes courtesy of Steve Martin.)

As for my music, I keep most of it archives on dual-layer DVDs. I’m not as concerned about it, as it is replaceable. My wife has an exact copy on her hard drive. If the house burns, I am screwed, as all my backups are local. I could keep a backup at someone else’s house, but I have weighed the cons and decided it’s not a priority. I can replace it all. It’s my personal selection of the ‘best’ music, but it’s not something that can’t be 100% replaced.

This is not the case with pictures, documents, and personalized stuff.

Regarding smartphones and regular dumbdialers (like I have): I get annoyed when I see or hear people say ‘my phone broke’ or ‘I lost my phone/sim card.’  Even if all you do is go to your favorite phone store and ask someone how to keep everything protected for the day when you either lose your phone or it breaks. It is going to happen to everyone.

Backup your data. It’s a learned habit.

In case I wasn’t specific enough: if you have data on a computer or smartphone, it will eventually get lost when the device fails, breaks, gets lost, stolen, drowned in water, etc.

Have a plan and least try to stick with it.