Monday, 28 September 2020

PC backups

Ah: repairs. We always need repairs. My 'new' PC fell over earlier this year, and - luckily - was repaired quickly by a friend with lots of hardware nous. The fan that came with the PC was far too small to deal with the heat. Simple: upgrade to a Swiss watch-style fan, and all is now ticketty boo. 

I have always meticulously done backups, mirroring to an external HDD. However, I found a flaw in my back-up plans, when - post-repair - my friend suggested that we try dismounting the PC HDD and inserting my back up mirror. It sounded like a great idea.

Except when we tried it, it didn't work. Ah. After much to-ing and fro-ing, we discovered it was the fact that, although the PC would clone to an external HDD, it needed to be POWERED to be able to access the contents. That became a relatively easy fix: I bought a mains power plug and cable for my USB hub and now it works perfectly. 

But it brings home to me the fact that not only do we need a back up, we need to rehearse how we will get that data back onto our system. We need to rehearse restoring from backup before the crisis so that we know it will work. At least now I know.

I also got a new piece of kit in the process. To back up my solid state HDD where I store my software, I am now using Seagate's DiscWizard to clone this drive. I love how QUICK it is, and how easy it is to use. The other piece of kit I use for my data files is FreeFileSync (here). This too runs quickly. My backups take less time than they used to each week: it used to be an all night process for my 4TB of data. I now run my backup procedure on a Tuesday night while watching a movie. 

Whatever you do, rehearse a catastrophe. See if you can use your backups, before you need them in the wild. 

And a last couple of points. Remember to store your backups off site. Not in your car: cars are more likely to be involved in an accident, get broken into, or be stolen more often than your office is! Schedule your backups regularly. Mine is in my diary. Time can slip by all too quickly, and once you realise that something horrible is going wrong, it will be too late. Even a day's work can be a flaming nuisance to have to redo, but a week's work will take a lot of weeks to recreate. 

Keeping data safe takes planning. So plan :-D


Sam

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