Never Say Die – Backup your Data!

This week, let’s take a look at the solutions available to artists and designers world wide to help keep their data and blood pressures safe. What is the need for a backup? Well there are simply put two ways to go about this? Either control the scenarios in such a way that you minimize your possibilities for disaster and ensure you have a Plan B in the rare case (which is really not so rare) that things do go wrong. OR. You go about your work utterly unaware that you could lose all your hard work to a bizarre electric surge or worse off a tsunami! In which case, you will just get back up on your feet and mourn the loss of your months of hard work and get back to work stoically. Well, most of us would never be able to respond so calmly to a crisis and it doesn’t mean that we need to train ourselves to. Well, that is a possibility, but the easier way out is what I outlined initially. Take charge and back up your data for safe keeping and peace of mind!

The Solutions? Eenie Meenie Mynie Mo

Yes, there are a thousand and one ways you can go about this and I’m certain your grandmother has a secret recipe she would share with you as well, but if you’re here looking for answers, I got a few.

1. Portable Hard Drives

Let’s start with the good old-skool technological solution of taking backups on another drive and saving it for a rainy day. This is akin to the piggy bank we all had as we grew up. This might sound very quaint and rock solid, but there are dangers abound. One ? You will have to physically plug in and backup up data on a regular basis (end of day/project) so if you are less disciplined, this may not be your best choice.

2. DVDs

While this may sound very doable to some and incredulous to others, I assure you that proper storing and cataloguing can make this a very viable solution. I know an animation studio that started off using this method. Of course they have since moved on to a SAN or Storage Area Network solution. The flip side is that you can not make incremental backup and revision history is a pain to catalogue and maintain a history of. The fun side is you can play Frisbee with the disks that don’t quite make the burning process!

3. Cloning

Disk cloning is copying the contents of your computer’s hard disk to another disk or to an “image” file. The contents of your disk are written to an image file as an intermediate step, and the second disk is then loaded with the contents of the image. This procedure is useful when moving to a larger capacity disk or to restore the disk to a previous state. A user can create a comprehensive backup of the operating system, installed software and all your project data not to mention your music, movies, etc. That’s right! Everything. For emergencies it’s better you have a data and a system backup available.

4. Online Boxes

SugarSync, Dropbox, MobileMe, Box.net, Carbonite & Mozy are some of the storage dumps that allow you to store your data across machines and mobile devices even with secure access and the possibility of shared access too. Many of you may heave a sign of relief that I’m finally offering more savvy solutions, but keep in mind that recently DropBox allowed anyone to log into any account with any password for four hours! That sort of window can make most people’s hearts go ba-da-ba-da-bust! I’m not taking sides or bashing any particular service and will suggest you do your own research before you jump in to these ‘cloud’y waters.

5. Complete AiO Solution

All in One solutions like what Crashplan offers are perfect or most of us and affordable as well. These solutions allow you to backup to different destinations like portable hard drives, friend’s computers and even remote locations. You can even remove and later reattach drives without restarting your backup. Backups are automatic and take place as often as once a minute allowing for continuity. Plus you also get the ability to restore your backups to any computer using your Internet browser with an Internet connection.

Never Say Die

That was a non-specific run down of your options to backup and safeguard your data and I’m hoping you understand the gravity of the situation. Most of us have already experienced the heartbreak of losing data that we have worked hard on and I’m going to suggest you go ahead with any one of the following choices: Moxy, Carbonite, CrashPlan, Backblaze, SpiderOak, JungleDisk, iBackup, DropBox or SugarSync. You don’t have to limit yourself to hard drives, DVDs because with the advent of broadband and inexpensive online storage, you’ve got little reason to not back up even critical files to the cloud as well. You might even want to give iFolder a try since it allows you to use your server space i.e. you can designate any network server as an iFolder server and publish information on that server. If you are a die-hard Mac user, you might already be using Time Machine which creates incremental backups of files that can be restored at a later date, allowing users to restore the whole system, multiple files, or a single file thus making it possible to restore individual objects. It’s also handy to keep a clone of your startup drive so you can get up and running in case of a crash. While your data maybe safe in the cloud, having your core Operating System and application data available safely at arm’s length is priceless. Backing up your data is one of those things in life that you really won’t understand until disaster strikes, by which time it’s too late. For most people who haven’t experienced data-loss, the task of backing up just seems like such a good idea in theory, but so much effort in reality. This is the exact notion that this article intends to dispel. It doesn’t take much to get started, barely anything to keep it going and is simply priceless when you do have to use it!

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Ritesh Reddy

Dr. Ritesh Reddy, PhD aka Reddy2Go is a Creative Generalist, who uses the magic of the written word and the allure of the visual medium in conjunction with bleeding edge technology to creating communication collateral for the New Media. He believes in the power of the individual & inspires independence through the Freelance Firestarter. In the spirit of selflessly sharing knowledge with the community for the betterment of society, he does not charge any fee for the same.