Backing up your electronic info

With the modern day interwebnet and all the technology we use today I just wondered how you make sure you don’t loose all your electronic info. I ask because I almost had a catastrophe when I returned home from my holiday in the sun the other day and my home computer had crashed and I had to re-install everything all the software and luckily I have all my ammo & collecting info on a separate portable hard drive, I back up my stuff every week.

I just wondered what you all do to save all your precious info.


I use Carbonite. It backs up everything automatically, I don’t have to do anything.

Just in case Carbonite should also crash and burn (not likely) I do copy some of my more important files onto a CD. I do that every couple of months.

I probably should simply get one of the new external hard drives that are no bigger than a cell phone and can be taken everywhere, but I never get around to it. I suppose a flash drive will do the same thing but, again, it’s something I would have to do whereas Carbonite now does it for me.


Rich; I’m paranoid about losing my important data, so I have probably gone overboard on how I back-up my files. First, off-site things like Ray’s Carbonite, the cloud (whatever that is), etc. all assume a good, reliable, secure connection to your computer … and that you have electricity in your home after the hurricane (I live in Florida), or forest fire, or tornado, or earthquake, or whatever. Because I’m paranoid, I back up my files on three different external (to the computer) drives and three other computers, sometimes four. I save my work very often, maybe too often if that’s possible, and just before I shut my machine down, I save what I’m working on (mainly HWS Vol. III lately) to the three external drives. It takes just a moment. I back up my files to the other computers’ hard drives a couple of times a week.

I’d recommend that you get a USB hub and a couple of drives. I have one thumb drive and two external hard drives all plugged into the USB 3.0 hub, which is plugged into my main computer. These are very inexpensive and someday might save your bacon. And they don’t rely on anything more than a foot from your computer.

Now, let me tell you about my house’s back-up electrical generator …

separating your ammo and reloading data form the installed software is a very smart move. Normally there is no problem to re-install software. The real value is in your data, because your data files are unique.

I use three external disk drives in turn. So I have three copies of the data: todays backup, and two previous days.

What Backup software you use, is mostly a matter of personal preference. I use the program called robocopy that is a part of modern Windows versions. It creates a snapshot of a given directory on the external disk by only copying new or changed files and deleting files that were deleted in the current directory. Having more than one external disks limits the loss if one of your external disks fails. Also you can recover files deleted by mistake, as long as you detect your error in time.

The important things are:
a) Use separate directories to hold your data on your computer. Never mix programs and data in one directory. This limits the backup to a manageable size
b) Do not get lazy. If on a given day you downloaded new files or do any change to your own files, take the time and do the backup.
c) You cannot cover any possible disaster/criminal intent/error. But the typical data losses can be avoided.

External disk drives, connected via USB, have the advantage of being very fast, and compare well to CDs in reliability. Typically, my robocopy backup runs in less than a minute.

As I wrote in an earlier post: I work in a data processing center, and on average we have one disk failure on every working day. These are professional quality disks, not the end user stuff you find in ordinary PCs. Sooner or later it will happen to all of us. It already happened once to me on a Sony notebook. Sony replaced the disk, and I was really happy to have my backups.

P.S.: Mel is in my view neither paranoid, nor going overboard. I see it as common sense.
My external drives are not connected to the computer, except during backup.

I learnt a couple of lessons years ago, when a power supply in my PC crashed and burnt. It took out every drive attached to that computer, including disc drives, external hard drive and so forth. Three weeks later the Taxation Office wanted the previous three years data, which took me 9 months to replicate.

As a result, not only do I backup to another hard drive, I copy data to a separate laptop, and keep another copy away from my office, which is separate from the house. If I lost all my photographs a long walk off a short jetty would feel appealing.:)


Nothing paranoid I guess.
I am using at least 5 back ups of which 4 are external. One of the external ones is stored 600km/~400miles away - just to make sure noone can take away the data from me on purpose!

The real important pictures and informations should be printed on high quality paper with high quality printers. Do you think you can still read your digital files in 2035? Just try a floppy disk dating from from 2001.
However you should not worry when you are over 70…

The thing with digital files is that the drives you are using should be relaced every now and then. One of the reasons I am using several backups on drives with different production dates and as file size is growing the drives have to do as well so an almost regular replacement is guaranteed.
Do not save your data on CDs!!! This is just a temporary solution as discs do age and will become corrupt somewhen.

I guess all I own and ever may own will not be enough to print all my fiels and photos. Let alone having the room to store all this safe from fire and water. All this then multiplied by 2 to have a backup of all that hardware too.

I just use two thumb drives, one at work, and one at home, and I rotate them as to backing-up files. To have all 3 fail or disappear is basically impossible, so it all works fine.

I use the free google drive and have it on three different computers I then placed a copy of the original file on google drive and put it on each machine so then if i make a change it will automatically change it on the other machines when I start them up so far I have had one machine fail but not the google drive and it is free, another option is a free application drop box. Vic

Once I was a customer of Compuserve, at the time one of the biggest players in the field. Not a free service, by the way. They literally shut down entirely three days after announcing it. Since then trusting my data to any commercial entity is no option any more.

I’m not a fan of having my critical data on someone else’s server, whatever they like to call it. It’s basically a way to tie you in to paying forever for “Cloud” storage. Can’t afford to pay that’s the end of it. Anything goes belly up with the company involved, and what happens to the data. Nothing like having your own control.

My wife was backing up her IPhone photos with Apple, until she ran out of space, so the charges start. Ever tried to cancel something like that?? I hate the way they hide behind automated answering so nobody has to be responsible. That’s why I like my ISP. At least if I get a problem, there is someone knowledgeable there 24/7 who speaks understandable English and is prepared to take whatever time is needed to rectify.

Enough of a rant, sorry.


An extremely important part of any backup plan is to test your backups on a regular basis. It’s a terrible feeling to have your main drive crash and think “I’ll just restore my backup!” only to discover that your backup system has been silently failing and you have no useable data to recover.

I like to test mine monthly. I simply pick a few random files and restore them to a temporary directory and then check to be sure they are readable. Once or twice per year I’ll restore the whole backup for good measure. My backup software actually does a verification pass after each backup, but I tend to be paranoid when it comes to preserving irreplaceable data so I do manual checks as well.

Wise words!

Boy, you guys take this cyberspace stuff a lot more serious than I do. I thought I was going the extra mile by backing up my files with both Cabonite and a CD.

Remember, you’re not paranoid if somebody really is watching you.