Monday 20 April 2009

Backing up to the Cloud - Part One

I might have mentioned it before but I make no apologies for mentioning it again, make sure you have your data backed up. There are loads of interesting and unusual ways that you can lose the information that you need and a good backup strategy is the only way to protect yourself.

Having taken the time to asses my existing backups and possible threats to my data I came to the conclusion that I had no real protection against a total loss event. What's a total loss event? Well in my case I can see some possible events that would fall into that category: flood, fire & theft. A house fire would melt all my hard drives, a flood wouldn't do them much good either and it is possible that some thieving toe rag could break into the house and clear out all originals and backups.

In the Clouds

So how can I protect my data from total loss? Well traditionally the answer is off-site backups. An off-site backup is where you copy your data to disk or tape and then move those devices far enough away from you to ensure they survive a disaster. This is common practice in the business world. Alternatively, we can take advantage of the internet and backup to The Cloud. Having considered a system of swapping portable hard drives in and out of the house, I thought it would be worth trying out the cloud first as its the modern way.

The first decision was to decide what I wanted this backup for. For me this would be a "last resort" backup as I have a layered strategy:
  • Currently active work on any PC is copied overnight to another PC using Allway Sync. This allows me to recover yesterdays work quite easily should I accidental delete or corrupt a particular file.
  • Once a month each machine is imaged to a USB drive, using Acronis True Image. This is to protect against HDD failure and to allow me to recover files that are not on the daily backups i.e. ones I deleted a few weeks ago and suddenly realise I need now.
  • Image archive. Once a month I move the previous months photos to my herd of buffalo.
  • Cloud backups would add the final layer that allows me to protect myself from total loss and to go back to much older files if I need to.
First I looked at each PC and decided what I really needed to store off-line:
  • Email is a major priority, all sorts of things can be kept in the various folders of an email system: logins to infrequently used systems, licence keys for downloaded software, travel bookings, reservations.
  • Documents created in Wod, Excel,etc
  • IView Media Pro catalogues, so I can find all my images.
  • My Image Archive
  • The latest release of Lemon
  • A copy of my website including the templates used to generate it.
Some things I decided not to back up:
  • Music: I don't think I need to keep a copy of my music as I have it all on CD & 2 hard disks. In event of a total loss I would just have to buy all those CDs again.
  • Bookmarks: For some people their web bookmarks are essential but I hardly use bookmarking so there is no need to worry about them.
  • Programs: As long as I have the licence keys I should be able to download the latest versions.

So now we have established the why and the what. In part two we will look at the how.

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