Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today Is Data Backup Day!

Today is Data Backup Day, being the first of the month. As many of my fellow genea-bloggers know, being in the Information Technology field, I am a big advocate of backing up systems and servers and data. I have experienced data loss first hand both at home and in my profession. If you don't think it will happen to you, you are only kidding yourself and you risk the loss of years of genealogy research. Here are this month's tips on how to formulate a backup plan and how to carry it to fruition.

Have a Plan

One of the events in the recent Genea-Bloggers 2008 Games was Back-up Your Data! and many of us developed plans as to how to backup our data.

If you don't have a plan, you really need one. And don't feel bad if your plan gets diverted - mine did. I started reviewing the data I needed to backup and saw how dis-organized it was, so I opted to spend one evening just refiling and cleaning up.

The next step is to decide what really needs to be backed up. If you have an external hard drive system which uses "one touch" backup then you can skip this step. The "one touch" concept will look for data that has changed and make sure that it is backed up.

Others prefer to do what is called an "incremental backup":

- take the current backup data and put it in a folder called "old backup"

- backup data to a folder called "current backup"

- next month, delete "old backup," rename "current backup" as "old backup," and then backup that month's data to a new folder called "current backup."

However you do it, just do it. You worked hard to find this data, perform the research and probably annotate it as well. You deserve to have it available to you in case of disaster or other hard times.

External Storage

I can't believe the options available currently for external storage! The prices have come down, the storage amounts are nearing 1 terrabyte (which is 1,000 gigabytes) and the size of the units are decreasing.

Kathryn Doyle at the California Genealogical Society and Library Blog recently purchased an external hard drive and she will be posting about her experience sometime later today!

Cnet - external hard drives sorted by user rating

Costco - a great source for external hard drives. Check out the 1tb drive for $199!

Amazon - carries quite a few external hard drives, many with free shipping and no sales tax!

Remember to tell Santa that an external hard drive makes the perfect stocking stuffer!

Online Storage

You can use a free online storage website if your storage needs are less tha 5gb. Many websites require users to pay a fee, but some are free and some have a limited amount of room for free. Here are a few:

Xdrive (5gb free) -

Mozy (2gb free) -

Box (1gb free) -

DropBoks (1gb free) -

Remember that how quickly you can backup will depend greatly upon the processor/RAM on your computer as well as your DSL/dial-up Internet connection.

One area of confusion is that download speeds (when you access a website or download a file) are vastly faster than upload speeds. For example, my current download speed is up to 1.mbps but my upload speed is only 384k, about 25% of the download speed.

If you have a slow connection, external backup may be a better alternative for you.

Read more about online storage:

Photo: Backup Backup Backup - And Test Restores at Flickr courtesy of Topato.


Anonymous said...

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GenealogySleuth said...

Once a month is not enough! I back up once a week and then I backup my back up!

Family Curator said...

Thomas, Today is Oct 20, yet my blog reader shows this post as "New." Go figure. Oh Great Tech Guru, can you help me with this -- today I tried to backup MyDocuments and MyPictures using the XP Backup program. It burped at 4 GB and gave me a message reporting that it had maxed out. Should I be using a third party backup program? or doing something else?
many tx, as always, denise