In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

Backup strategies

This morning, Scott Hanselman posted about his revised backup strategy after inadvertently losing some data for a family member.  It is surprising how often people overlook their own backup fallacies.  It is too easy to figure "ohh, I'll do it later, it won't die now" or assume keeping a second hard drive is enough.

Recently I was talking to a friend of mine.  His wife just gave birth to their second child, and he had recently lost a bunch of pictures of his first daughter due to a hard drive failure.  With Trish now being pregnant, he was saying it is absolutely crucial to have a sound backup strategy, and those baby pictures are absolutely invaluable.  His strategy, similar to Scott's, is to keep a safe deposit box with a spare hard drive and regularly backing it up.

With our first child on the way, it has had me thinking a lot about ensuring our important memories (pictures) and documents are all documented, secure, and backed up.

To give a brief synopsis, here are all the things I am trying to account for:

  • Eliminate any "single point of failure" for important data (ie, nothing in just one physical drive).
  • If our house is broken into, is everything that is important locked up, encrypted, or otherwise inaccessible.  Ever watch It Takes a Thief?  If they snatch my computer tower, do they get my entire life history with it?  They better not.
  • If our house is burned down to the ground, is that data stored somewhere off site?  Insurance aside, it is easy to lose irreplaceable things this way.
  • In our house, I take care of all the finances.  If I were to pass away today, would Trish have access to our finances?  Would she know where all our money is?  How much we have?  When bills are due?  She may know which banks we use, but does she know the account numbers or current balances?  What about the password to my computer or email?  Who to contact at work or otherwise to inform them?

I've been working on coming up with a life backup strategy.  It involves not just having all your data backed up, but the important things in your life that your significant other would need to know in your absence.  Bank information, passwords, etc.  This can be the hardest part to do, simply because you want it easy to update (otherwise you won't keep it up to date), secure (so it isn't "too easy to update" like leaving it all written down on a piece of paper on your desk), but also accessible to the right people, so Trish knows everything it contains and how to use it if it was ever needed.

Kids can be a real eye opener to some of these things, since you realize how important those baby pictures are, but also how important it is to ensure they are ok in the event you aren't around.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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