What’s Your ‘Automatic’ Data Backup Plan?


What’s Your ‘Automatic’ Data Backup Plan?

Firstly, let me start out by assuring you that I have no partnership or affiliate agreement with Dropbox and I have not been enticed or encouraged to write this article – I get nothing out of it.

Okay, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, I can say it:

“I used to like Dropbox; now I love it!”

The setup.

I’d been having problems with my laptop for a few days; the usual situation of running like the proverbial dog, taking 10 minutes to boot up, websites crashing, etc. But I couldn’t bear the thought of being without it for days while it went off to the IT geeks, so I just put up with it. Plus, I was heading overseas in a couple of days’ time, and I wanted to take my laptop with me, so I figured I would just put up with it. Then, bad turned to worse, and my laptop became completely unusable and just totally froze on me; this was a Friday morning, and I was flying out to Hong Kong that night.

Off to the doctor.

So, I headed off to my local computer store, dropped off my laptop with a rush order and waited for the news to come. I received a phone call a couple of hours later with the news that my hard drive was terminal. For those with a memory of Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch (check it out if not, it’s very funny), it was, in the immortal (modified) words of John Cleese, “An ex-laptop.”

Panic set in as I absorbed this news and then got even worse when the IT guy asked me if I had a current backup? I slowly responded that the last physical backup to a hard drive I had done was a full two weeks ago in a downcast tone, as I tried to work out how much of my brilliant work I had actually lost.

Dropbox to the rescue!

But then the realisation finally dawned on me that I had every single one of my files saved on Dropbox! I have used Dropbox for many years, and it had become so second nature to me, and it just runs so nonchalantly in the background that I had forgotten it was there at all.

So, the IT guy salvaged what he could from my old defunct hard drive, installed the new hard drive, and I picked it up at 6:00 pm that same afternoon, in plenty of time for me to catch my flight to Hong Kong that night!

When I got my laptop home complete with its brand spanking new hard drive, I turned it on, reinstalled Dropbox and then got some dinner. By the time I returned to my laptop, Dropbox had automatically found all the files on my new hard drive and synced it to the copy on the Dropbox server, and I immediately had access to everything as if nothing had ever happened – the whole process was seamless, it just worked.

Have a backup plan.

So, the moral of the story is; always have a backup plan! Because one day you’ll really need it. And make sure it doesn’t require human intervention. The fact is, if our method of data backup relies on us actually physically copying something off to somewhere else, then it simply won’t be up to date.

There are lots of options out there to store your data, with the right solution for you depending on the amount of data, level of complexity, security requirements and more. Simple options include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon Drive, Apple iCloud, Sync, pCloud, Box and more. Then there are next level options in dedicated data centres with full disaster recovery features for mission-critical installations.

Get some advice and do your research to find the right fit for your business.

On a side note, since its technology month, I thought I would also share this with you.

Hard drive speed – SATA vs SSD.

It’s not really directly related to this backup topic, but it seems like a good opportunity to share my experience with selecting a replacement hard drive. A few minutes explanation from my friendly and helpful IT guy got me to understand the difference between an old-tech SATA drive (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment drive, which uses a mechanical arm that moves around the surface of the drive) and a new-tech SSD (Solid State Drive, which has no moving parts and is just like a giant memory stick). The SSD had a bit less memory capacity than the SATA, but would apparently be at least 10 times faster and only cost $140 more, so I decided on the SSD.

I can honestly say I am now very happy that my hard drive died because my new SSD is lightning fast compared to my old SATA drive. Fully booting up my laptop used to take about 5 minutes, but now it’s ready to go in about 10 seconds flat.

I guess, ‘Every data cloud has a silver lining’…

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