Back Up, Will Ya?

I'm about to engage in a favorite holiday season pastime, the annual data backup.

I learned a while back to play dumb. This is just a good strategy in life in general; if you can manage to stop acting like a know-it-all, you learn a lot. But another way I play dumb these days is that I don’t tell anyone how well I back up my data. You see, I have almost every file that’s ever been on my computers since 1999, all backed up on DVD’s. The data fills two 100-disc spindles. The reason I started playing dumb is that before cloud storage became an everyday term, it seemed a lot of my associates thought of ME PERSONALLY as their “cloud storage”. I’d routinely get asked “do you have that logo file from 2003?” or “do you have that email from last year?”, and strangely, it seemed I always did. Which is handy when I’M looking for something, but gets tedious and time consuming as a free service to others.

This year, I’m doing some new things with my annual backup. First of all, I’m finally ditching the DVD’s. I just bought this 320GB external hard drive. What? Why am I not using “the cloud”? PUH. To me, the explosion of cloud services is one of the most mind-boggling things since AOL. Why, why WHY would you take data that can be stored locally, portably, and securely, and waste bandwidth entrusting it to some corporation that is as likely as not going to change ownership one day, and has no real interest in your privacy anyway? You don’t hear many negative things about the cloud, because, well, there’s a lot of money to be made on the business side, and on the consumer side, well, consumers generally understand data storage about as well as they understand how to open e-mail attachments or how Dragons can fly. But here are 10 reasons I might avoid the cloud, if you’re curious.

So what else am I doing differently this year? Well, part of the reason I’m not using DVD backups is that my Thunderbird email backup is now over 4GB. Yup, that’s a lot of mail. So for 2012, I’m starting fresh with the email, the contacts, and the social networking. I’m going to cull the Facebook “friends”, and force anyone who wants to stay in touch to provide fresh information. Out of sight will be out of mind. One thing I’ve noticed over the last couple of years is that social networking is fun, but eats A LOT of time, and after Facebook went through its “reunion and dating service” phases, it provided little genuine benefit in the development of my real world networks. Same with sites like LinkedIn. Do a hard assessment of your time investment vs your real returns, and I bet you’ll reach the same conclusion. And I already use my own version of Inbox Zero, so I plan to have the meanest, leanest contact lists in existence moving forward.

Files You Regret When You Forget

I bet you didn’t know you could install XP with a thumb drive, did you. Last year I learned a brutal lesson the day after Christmas, when I had a life-paralyzing hard drive crash. The first lesson was that it can take 164 minutes to install XP with a thumb drive. The second was that I had been failing to back up some of the files I always remember to back up when doing a new install, but forget to back up routinely. If you’ve never had a hard drive crash, here’s some advice: either start using some user friendly backup software, or if you’re tech savvy enough, at least regularly back up the following items we all forget. Statistically, every week that passes without a crash means it’s even more likely data loss will strike. Let me know if I missed anything important here:

Your Mail Program Archives
Your Mail Program Address Book
Your Quickbooks Data
Your Browser Bookmarks
Your Saved Passwords
Your Internet/Network Settings

We’ll have a followup piece about specific backup tools, but for now, I have two days worth of data management to deal with!

About Ian

Ian is a media consultant, writer, musician, and budding public speaker with an eye on being the next Ellen. Ian's interest in helping others find success and happiness stems from his experience with events planning and media consulting with organizations like and the Kenya/US NGO Amara Conservation from 2000-2008, which taught him how little we all know about what we're really doing. From 2008 until April of 2011, Ian wrote for and maintained the site Ian learned long ago that the journey to success may take occasional detours, and often eschews the road map in favor of taking in life's scenery. His first business venture was a small telecom company in the late 1980's, but subsequent ventures included pursuing a pop music career, screenwriting, and the foodservice and retail employment that often follows such pursuits. After struggling with addiction for years, Ian is happily embracing recovery and the clarity it brings.