Backup Your Files!!!!

Kenny's Tip of the Day - Backup Your Files!!!!

I know. This is “barely” a tip but is there anything more important than saving the work we create? Is there anything “less” professional than telling a client you just lost their work? Is there anything more frustrating than having to redo work that you already did? I don’t think so.

So please. Backup your files. Create a backup solution and stick to it. I just recently updated mine. Which you should do as your needs change over time, your ability to afford things changes over time and the products available to you change as well.

I recently moved my studio and in the process, noticed all of the backup drives I had collected over the years. I think I had about 24 external drives sitting in my closet and I hadn’t booted them up in years. Something you really should do from time to time.

The reason I had so many is because these were purchased over the last two decades. So some of them were as small as 100GB each. Over the years they got larger but none of them were even 1TB.

My method over the years was to simply buy 2 of the largest size available (or economically priced) and make duplicate backups of every project I worked on. I had made one very crucial mistake early on where I left both backups mounted at the same time. I had a major crash (beach ball spinning for an hour) and upon restart, both drives were gone. Luckily I was able to use Data Rescue and 2 days of work and got everything back.

Since that time, I have NEVER mounted or even powered up multiple backup drives at the same time. This will come up later.

So back to my move. I didn’t want to pack these 24 external hard drives so I ordered two 4TB external drives and planned on backing up the 24 drives to both of them. One at a time. This is actually a very useful practice as it also lets me know if I still have my data. If it copies OK, I should be good.

Out of the 24 drives, about 2 or 3 of them had issues. Some wouldn’t boot at all while another had some corrupted files. Luckily, I had duplicate backups so nothing was lost. Yayy!!

Once all of this was backed up to one of them, I copied everything from that drive to another. I know what you’re thinking. Kenny. Didn’t you say not to mount or power up both drives at the same time? Yes. I know. But I didn’t throw out the original 24 drives yet so I’m going to allow it. Just this time. :)

So once both drives were completely backed up and fortunately fit on each 4TB drive, I felt safe tossing out the 24 older drives. Saving my back from having to bring this up and down another flight of stairs.

Plus, I can now more easily find things as EVERYTHING is now on each backup. Although that concept did make me feel a bit uneasy. At least before, a drive failure only meant losing 6 months of projects. Now I could lose everything. But I got over that paranoia quickly.

I then bought a 3rd 4TB and backed everything up again and brought that to my in laws house. Always good to have a backup at another location. Even if I don’t use that drive as often.

But recently, I started thinking about spending a bit more money and buying a more robust backup system. Maybe a RAID or something similar. I looked into Drobo. Not cheap but the redundancy and simplicity seemed attractive to me. Then I looked around and saw some people with issues that took days to resolve and I also wasn’t comfortable with a backup system that required the “system” to keep the drives usable.

In other words, if the Drobo itself broke (assuming the drives and their data was still in tact) I couldn’t just pop these drives into my computer and get my projects back. I needed to buy another Drobo. That’s a bit too “closed” a system for me.

I had a similar experience years ago using backup software that would span data across multiple CDs or DVDs. Somehow the catalog file got corrupted and everything became worthless. So I’m not a fan of anything that requires a specific product to restore my data. Something that may not work years from now if the company goes out of business and stops updating the software.

So I decided against the Drobo or any similar product. But a RAID is a bit different. It works more like a hard drive but uses more drives for greater performance (which I didn’t really need) and redundancy.

The redundancy seemed attractive to me. Because the one annoying thing about my current backup plan is that I have to turn on hard drive one. Plug it in to my computer. Back up to it. Unplug that drive and do the same thing with drive two. Then unplug that one completely and put it away. Using a RAID system, I could pop in 2 or 4 drives, and backup everything up once. It would span across 2 or 4 drives and I would have multiple copies of my data. Then I could just mount and unmount the one system and be done. Right?

Not so fast Kenny. Do you remember what happened earlier? That major crash because both drives were mounted at the same time? Yes. And that’s the problem with a RAID system as well. It will protect you from a drive failure as you’ll have a duplicate (or 2). But it won’t protect you from a hardware or software failure that blows out all the data while it’s writing to both or all drives at once. You still need another backup. Just in case.

So for me, a RAID or similar system doesn’t solve my problem. I still need two dedicated backups. So I’m back to my current system. One external hard drive at a time. Booo. Although it is pretty cheap and modular.

I should mention, that besides the 3rd drive that I keep offsite (I should consider a NAS system for this), I also use Dropbox for cloud based backups. It’s only 1TB with my current plan but it’s a great place to keep current projects and my most important files. Like family photos and videos that I can never replace. But it’s not a great long time solution. It’s only 1TB.

In addition, I recently started using Time Machine. This is Mac only (sorry PC) but it saved my butt in the first few days I used it. I had a bunch of macros saved for using my video editing program and I managed to accidentally delete all of the keystrokes.

Luckily, Time Machine backs up everything so I was able to find it and restore it in seconds. This is a great “extra” option for me because I tend to be diligent about backing up projects I’m currently working on but not as good about backing up smaller files or preferences for applications.

But Time Machine (for me) is NOT a great backup solution for everything. If you delete something off of your main hard drive, it will eventually remove it from your backup if you need the space. So I consider Time Machine to be an “extra” backup I do daily. It doesn’t replace my current plan. I still backup projects to the other 2 drives.

This may not be the perfect plan for you, but I thought it was worth sharing in case you wanted to consider adjusting yours. Either way, backup your files. NOW!!!!

You can learn more by watching my videos at www.groove3.com

I hope this message finds you well. Kenny Gioia