There are many to approaches backing up files – ranging from maniacal to intermittent to completely forgotten. Here’s how I handle my backups working remotely from a home office in North Carolina and at IDEAS in Orlando using primarily office and graphics files.
- Auto Save – I have this activated at 5-minute increments with my Office apps so that if something horrendous happens (i.e.: app/OS crash, power failure, child tantrum, etc.) whatever I had been working on is not lost completely and shame on me if I can’t recall what I did for the last 5 minutes.
- Time Machine – I work on a Mac and have Time Machine running in the background so that I am never more than a few hours behind what is saved on my Time Capsule and can be restored fairly quickly. Not sure what the comparable Windows solution is. Maybe someone else can clue us in on that.
- 1st Generation Backup – I have a separate hard drive that I use to store files so that my laptop is not full of project documents from 2003. Every month, I make sure that this drive is updated with the latest files from my laptop – be they multiple script versions from a recent project or photos from camping with the family last weekend.
- 2nd Generation (Grandfather) Backup – I have another hard drive that I keep in a safe deposit box at our local bank up here in NC that I swing by and bring to the house every 3-4 months to update my backup files. Not everything, just the important stuff (i.e.: project files, pictures/movies, and personal docs). That way, if the house burns down I am not up the creek without a paddle.
- Offsite Backup – IDEAS has a hard drive that stays in Orlando that I update with project files every couple of months. This provides me an alternate backup source for work files (no personal stuff) and if the plane goes down, a quick way for them to move on without me.
- Online Backup – I know that there are online options such as Carbonite that provide real time backups for your files, and maybe some of you are using these services. I am doing fine using Apple’s iCloud to backup my personal files along with media (pictures and movies).
- Music – I list this as a separate category because I have 800GB in music media, which precludes me including it with any of the previous backup practices. However, I do have a clone of my iTunes library on a separate hard drive that I keep in the safe deposit box just in case my music drive crashes again (currently on my 3rd one). My brother has a unique solution that I have utilized several times that I am not a liberty to disclose, but gives me a “Hail Mary” recovery option should all my iTunes libraries and backups crash in unison.
Hope this is helpful to anyone considering adjusting their backup habits. Feel free to share any other ways you ensure the integrity and consistency of your daily digital life. There is never a right way, only the way you wish you had done it after all else fails.