As most tech individuals know, backups are essential, but really how many actually perform daily inferential backups.
I started a few months ago, after I had a 4 disc RAID array go down. Now even on my little beast of a laptop I do daily backups. Yes this ends up costing more money for hardware, but just think of the opportunity cost, when you sit down and think about how much is your data actually worth to you. I realized after having 3 years of digital photos and videos almost lost on that RAID array. Though I was able to recover everything it did take 3 weeks of diagnostics to fix it. Now instead of the RAID 0 (striped) system that I was running, I have switch to RAID 1 (mirror) yes I now have lost the ability to use one full hard drive, but now all my data has a redundant backup. For my laptop I purchased a 200GB USB hard drive to perform daily backups.
Here is a few suggestions for everyone.
1) Always make duplicate copies of everything you are working on, and always make sure they are being saved on separate systems. Google Gmail accounts are great for storing files, there are a few pieces of software that will auto break and compress files o be stored in Gmail.
2) Use a Mirror RAID system yes this does increase cost by double but just think if you ever loose anything you have a full original copy that is exactly like the system was before the crash. Now this is only good for cases where the hard drive is the problem, if Windows or Linux is the cause then you better have had made duplicates to a third storage system.
3) Ghost Backups, today was the first time that I actually cleaned up my desktop and started from scratch and installed all the software and updates that I need and made a Ghost Image. Now if I ever have problems it will only take 30 minutes max to get a system up again.
4) USB or IEEE1394 Hard drives, these are great, great for storing information but not for program installations. My USB hard drive is now used to keep backups of everything on my laptop, everything from my desktop, and it also contains my Ghost Images. Yes you may be saying but what if the USB drive fails, well you got to think how much redundancy is actually needed.
5) E-mail, everything has lost important e-mails in their life and wished they made backups. Well you can, in Outlook you can export your PST file to another storage system, but like me my PST file is several gigabytes large. But my main source of back ups for e-mail is my actual e-mail server. I have made all my connections IMAP connections, so outlook now treats my e-mail as web mail, so all e-mails are stored on the server. Which in turn has multiple back ups from my host provider, and also from the weekly backups I make from the server. So my e-mail is stored in at least 4 locations.
Well there are some tips and tricks, again I say over and over these cost in most cases double what you normally would spend. But sit down one day and ask yourself, how much that spreadsheet is really worth. And if you think Linux is your savour, think again, I have a dual boot system running WinXP and Suse 9.1, and after 3 boots into Linux my X Server corrupted and crashed the system, don’t ask me how or why, I still messing with Linux.
So everyone get out there are and start making backups and start thinking what your information is worth to you.
Oh and on a side note, don’t think CD’s and DVD’s are the answer, most studies have shown that only after 6 months the data on CD’s and DVD’s has already started to corrupt.