Today is Check Your Backups Day

February 1, 2017 No Comments

Today, February 1, is officially Check Your Backups Day!

Why, you ask? Because even geeks, who should know better, can screw it up. (Source: http://checkyourbackups.work/)

In dedication to the @GitLab outage of February 1st 2017

Ooops. But that’s OK, right? They had a backup? Well, yes. But then this happened:

Ruh roh. That’s a lot of geek-speak for “we thought we had this covered, but it looks like we’re hooped”.

Having a backup process in place, FOLLOWING your backup process regularly, isn’t going to help you if you can’t restore from said backup and get yourself up and running quickly.

Ruh roh again. You’re telling me you don’t have a backup process in place? Or you don’t follow it regularly (as in EVERY DAY)?

Let’s start there. What triggered me thinking about backups, and restoring from backups, was a comment from someone in my writing group. She fell for a phishing email, and clicked on an unknown attachment (and we’ll talk about THAT another time!), and found her computer infected with ransomware / malware that buggered up her files. I’m not sure if they were actually deleted, or permanently corrupted, or held for ransom. And I haven’t heard back from her as to whether she is back up and running yet with everything restored.

The end result from an attack like that, though, might mean that you must wipe your computer clean and restore all your files from backup. Or, if you’re lucky, only a few have been damaged and you only need to do a partial recovery.

When news of my writing colleague’s problem made the rounds of our Facebook group, someone else contacted me and asked me what I do. She asked specifically about backing up email, which may or may not be possible using my method — depends on how you do your email. So here’s what I sent her:

If you only use web-based email (she uses Hotmail), I’m not sure how I’d go about backing it up. Might want to do a Google search and see if there are any recommendations.

I bring everything into Outlook on my laptop. Even my personal gmail account gets collected in Outlook. So when I talk about backups, I’m backing up stuff on my hard drive.

And for that I use MozyHome https://mozy.com, the Personal version. It’s not free, and in fact I pay way more than the basic amount because I back up a LOT of stuff! They offer 50GB of backup for $5.99 US/mo and 125GB for $9.99 US/mo. My account limit is 265GB, and I back up 3 computers into that. Most folks never need that much, but I have a lot of client files and images. And music. And books. I’m paying about $252 US/year. It’s worth every penny.

They do have a free version that backs up 2GB from one computer: http://mozy.com/free. If that’s enough space for you, what are you waiting for? Go get it!

There are a few things I really like about MozyHome.

  • It backs up to both their cloud storage area and to my external hard drive. The hard drive is great because I can restore from it really quickly. The cloud is great if ever my house burns down or the hard drive gets corrupted. With MozyHome, my writing is actually kept updated in four places: on my laptop in Scrivener, in Dropbox because I set up Scrivener to use my local Dropbox files as the file locations, in the MozyHome cloud, and on my external hard drive in the MozyHome backup. Yes, I’m a little paranoid.
  • The backups aren’t encrypted. So to restore from the hard drive is as simple as drag and drop. I tested a few other systems, but with many of them you can only restore using the same application that ran the backup. What if that application is the problem and the thing that gets corrupted due to a virus or malware?
  • It runs what are called incremental backups most of the time. The initial backup for me takes DAYS because I back up so much. But then every night on a schedule, MozyHome looks at all my files and only backs up the ones that have changed during the day.
  • I have very precise control over what does and does not get backed up. And I can back up stuff that isn’t in My Documents.
  • It will back up Outlook files, even if the files are in use because Outlook is running. So if I forget to shut Outlook down at night, the backup will still run. This one feature was enough to convince me to use MozyHome all by itself. Many backup applications won’t touch Outlook files, or can’t run a backup on a file that’s currently in use.

I am a BIG fan of Mozy!

So the bottom line is: Back up your stuff. ALL of it. Every day. And test your backups regularly, to make sure you can restore from them when and if you need to.

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About Win

Win Day is a story-telling geek who loves to read and write about strong men and savvy women. On a Whim, a stand-alone warm contemporary romance in a collection of twelve books by eleven authors, is her first published novel. Visit her writing website at www.windaywrites.com or her web development company at www.creativeimplementations.com.

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