As developers, people assume that we’ve got some bullet-proof backup system for all of our code, documents and media. In most cases, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Ask yourself these questions: If your computer blew up right now, how long would it take to restore, recreate or re-download all the files that it currently contains? How long would it take until you’re productive again?
If your honest answer is more than “a couple of hours”, read on…
If you use a computer regulary, take note: it will happen. It may be while you’re working on an important document, or when you’re trying to boot up in the morning. And it will happen at the worst possible time. Your system will be toast.
So how can you shield yourself from this impending disaster? The following is a description of my backup routine. Feel free to take the parts you need to build your own.
- All code I write goes into a repository, such as SVN or GIT, typically several times a day. Whether it’s for work or a personal project, I have no interest in re-writing code. I’m a developer, so I’m more interesting in writing *new* code;)
- I own a small FTP device which has two mirrored 2TB drives. After a year of use, I’ve still got 1.6TB remaining, so I’ll be OK for a few more years with this capacity.
- I purchased the Linux/Windows version of Beyond Compare which allows you to compare files and folders on your local machine, across the network or over FTP. I love the ability so set up different comparison sessions so I can quickly see what’s out of sync between two folders. During a typlical work day, I might sync up two or three times, depending on how many bits I’m generating.
- Found a good YouTube video or legally-aquired MP3? Don’t make these files part of your backup. If they’re worth keeping, burn them onto a DVD and free up your hard disk space. I do the same with the plethora of Linux Live CDs that I download as ISOs.
- Discipline. It took a few data disasters before I finally woke up and became obsessed with backing up my stuff. Today I’ve actually got four copies of my important data: the FTP device, two desktops (home and work) and a laptop. If any one of these fails I can use one of the other three to get back to business.
Reply to this post if you have any other great backup strategies to share!