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The importance of backups my story

A couple of weeks ago, I was working with my system and my backup drive which is separate from the computer was starting to act strangely.  I knew this was a sign of impending doom so I scrambled to recover what I could as the drive would work for about 2 minutes after boot up, then go down.   The amount of storage on the drive is roughly 650GB of data.  In this data set, I have every music CD we own backed up to the server and our family photos, wedding photos, and lots of other items which are not easily replaceable.   I have backed up this drive before to a smaller drive so most of the data is still intact so I was glad to have this.  After taking inventory of what I have lost, it was an acceptable loss of mostly program files I downloaded and a few things that were no longer important to have.  

Late last year, I had backed up my 'backup drive' to the cloud using a service which was $5/month and I was happy with them, but found that their system was too awkward with Linux and just did not play nice, so I scrapped it with them.   This is right around the exact same time as when our Internet Provider Comcast, decided to institute data caps on their accounts.  So, we are allocated a total of 1TB or 1000gb of Internet traffic per month, overage fees would apply once we go over.  They are nice enough to send you a warning email when you are close, but it is not exactly ideal to backup to the cloud anymore if you have a lot of data.

I realized though, that with the amount of data to backup being less than 1000gb, I decided to backup my items to the cloud, but this time in a different manner.  Google offers cloud storage for a monthly fee, and for me to do this, and this much data, it would run me about $10/month.  Not something I really want to be doing.    So I started looking around for promotions and offers.  I landed on eBay and snagged Lifetime unlimited Google drive storage for $5.  So, I took a shot and sure enough, space was granted to me and unlimited storage is in my hands.   Something did not feel right with me, after seeing the origin of the seller, and my principal feelings about outsourcing, so I canceled my unlimited storage the next day.  They refunded me and said my account was deleted.  To this day, it is still active, but I do not use it.

Further research on my end led me to another seller reselling the unlimited storage but also, the ability for me to give up to 5 accounts for unlimited data to anyone else I want under this domain name for no additional cost, I again paid a lifetime fee which was extremely less than what Google charges.  So, I am now formulating a backup plan to my unlimited storage space there.  In addition, this site backups to the storage space up there as well, if in the event that the server should go down, everything is safe.

Security concerns:

One thing that comes hand in hand with backing up data to the cloud, whether it is Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon cloud storage or any other medium, is making sure your files are secure and not accessible by anyone other than yourself.  Since I am backing up to Google's storage servers, I am scrambling my files and sending them up with coded file names such as 1.pgp, 2.pgp, 3.pgp  which I have a database which lets me know which file 2.pgp stands for for example.     The file is password locked and scrambled to prevent anyone from obtaining our data w/o the super long password I supplied.

Redundancy is king!

Even though I had a backup of my backup drive on a spare drive locally, I already had one reasonably secure backup.  Problem though, is even those backups can go bad.  Today, my backup is safe, and is in the process of being encrypted before I send it to my drive storage, it is something that I want to keep stored in a secondary place just in case things should go south locally on our drives.

The other day, I had finished running a 3 day long test on the drive which was apparently failing, and it passed every test I gave it, the health tests indicate it is a viable drive.  I proceeded to format the drive and restore everything from my backup drive to the drive which was having issues.  I then had the moment we all feel when we realize we did something that we should not have!  I had not backed up current data such as logins/passwords to this server which I often change for the backend of things, as well as a few other files that I had wanted to keep.  My browser settings were lost, as well as my email software settings were lost.  The latter of those two are easily recreated, but I like to restore those as needed if I run into a problem with the browser.

We all need a schedule and a plan:

Most of us take for granted that our data is safe on our computer and it is securely stored for when we need it.  We do not always look at the reality of losing our data if a hard drive fails, or the computer should go down.   I have been in that boat many times, and it is too easy to forget to backup my data.    This last scare I had with my drive which is acting up, pretty much jump started me in the path to backing up data asap.

There are several services which let you backup your data to their cloud server for a fee.  Google, for example - gives you 15GB of backup space for free.  If you need more, then you pay for more space.
Amazon offers a pretty outstanding deal, $60/month for unlimited storage of data so you can pretty much put whatever you want on their service. 

Once you find your service you want to use, download their software to your computer and install it, then it is time to set up a schedule.  Fortunately, backup services such as Carbonite, or Crashplan offer automated backups.  You just set the schedule and forget it.  I recommend those types of services for anyone who is not wanting to fuss with the nuances of manual backups and encryption.  By the way, both will encrypt your files on the way to the backup server so you know it is not going to be readable by anyone.  When you restore the data to your computer, it is decrypted.

If you choose to run a manual backup on a schedule, set a time on your phone or calendar to remind you that "today is backup data day".  Grab a strong cup of coffee, set the backups up and then go read a book, surf the web, watch TV or whatever you want while you wait for the files to be backed up.   The investment in time is much nicer than the time you invest on trying to rebuild what you lost in the long run!


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