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When was the last time you used backups?

“Click! Click!” The sound we all dread to hear. The sound of a hard disk failing.

I bought a Western Digital “My Book” external drive a few weeks ago and moved my Backuppc backup files onto it. That freed up a 250GB SATA drive which I promptly filled with all my photos from 2000 to 2005. That’d be 109GB of data, all archived in a separate drive from my “current” work on this year’s and last year’s photos.

Unfortunately I discovered that the drive has some errors on it, rendering several months of photos unrecoverable. What makes it worse, I had forgotten to add those directories to my Backuppc configuration. Luckily, my trusty old DVD backups came to the rescue and I’m now copying the corrupted files back into my main repository.

The failed SATA drive is less than a year old, I think, so I’ll dig up the receipt and head down to Maplins. I need to buy another external drive anyway, now that I’m replacing my noisy desktop machine with a Dell laptop. Another option is a dedicated RAID array. The Drobo, reviewed by Thomas Hawk a few weeks ago looks very impressive. A bit pricey and I wonder if it’s available in Europe? Apparently the new 1TB My Book drives features a dual drive functionality, and access to gigabit ethernet. Choices, choices, choice. (Later.. The review here of the 1TB My Book says that it has some form of DRM, and is unstable. Definitely one to avoid.

The last DVD backup I made was way back at the end of January this year and I’ve taken another 20GB of photos since. DVDs are too small.

So, when did you last backup your photos? Would you be upset if you lost all those memories?

PS. ironically enough, while feeding Adam this morning I watched Homerazzi, the Simpsons episode where Marge loses all her family photos in a fire and Homer becomes a paparazzi. Here’s some of his work, including pictures of Paris Hilton attacking Bart!

Later .. Doug is having problems with his Drobo, although he’s getting great service from the store he bought it. When he plugged the Drobo into his Mac it complained it couldn’t read the disk. Nasty!

By Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Twitter.

6 replies on “When was the last time you used backups?”

lol did you post this just because I mentioned my 2 new 500gb MyBook’s? Youre a big meanie if you did 🙂 When I connected both drives I found errors on one, so I did a clean sweep on both, just to be sure. I don’t trust external HD’s, probably never will. Even the most immobile units get dogs abuse over its life time. I just bought these because I’m sick of searching around for stuff on DVD’s, films and files and what not.

In general I keep 3-4 copies of everything, depending on how important they are. Theres the local copy thats just stored on one of the pcs’s drives, then there’s a DVD copy and a copy sent to an external drive. Finally god bless gmail. I keep password protected rar files of all my music, photographs, sribbles, videos etc. throughout a range of special gmail accounts.

I used to just backup to Taiyo Yuden dvd-r’s but to be honest, I wouldnt even trust their dyes past five years. I’ve already lost stuff on cd-r’s due to dye rot. Sometimes I think its best things get lost, its just another form of trinket materialism.

“Nothing lasts… but nothing is lost”

Hmmm I read your post again… yay for WD external HD’s 😀 Buying 2x 500GB is far cheaper than the 1 TB option also, which is effectively just 2 500gb drives stuck in a big box.

I am currently in the process of trying to rescue my 110GB music library from a very flakey failing external HDD.

I am always at my colleagues/friends/family to do regular backups of all their important stuff, but failed to take my own advice this time. I could make all sorts of excuses – not having a separate HDD big enough for the backup, or running out of DVD media, or DVD media being too small – but at the end of the day, every HDD will eventually fail and if you’re not prepared it’s you’re own silly fault.

My photos are a different story, they are backed-up all over the place!

Gamma – after you formatted the drive did the error go away? I’d be suspicious of it! I know what you mean about DVD and CD backups. My oldest backups are probably 2 years old at this stage. I need to reburn them again, with the burn date written on the media this time.

I wish Sony and Philips and whoever else would get their finger out and standardize on one of the new bigger capacity DVD formats so we’ll see burners and media at reasonable prices. I can’t believe the same thing happens every time a new generation is developed – it’s good because the best should survive, but in the confusion we’re left high and dry.

Sorry, I hadn’t read your post yet. I’m really behind on my blog reading. Bloglines says I have 3240 unread posts!

I eventually bought a “My Book Pro” which has a firewire interface as well as USB. I have a PCI Firewire card which I might be able to use in the docking station of the new laptop. The drives won’t ever be moved so hopefully I’ll have better luck with them. I’ll still make DVD backups of course!

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