Back up your Computer and important files!

posted October 29th, 2012

On Sunday morning my Laptop was charging and the power in the house stopped.
The power is going again but my laptop isnt :(
Every time I plug it in the house shorts out... (only did that twice)
Laptop is dead!
It has all my photos on it for about a year and a half and they were not backed up.... I ordered an external hard drive online and ironically it arrived on Friday and was sitting next to my work computer... where I am now.
I can only hope my tech guy can save the photos and documents. I am staring in the face of losing a lot of photos and important documents.
Have more than 1 copy of your important files!
Back up your computer!
posted October 29th, 2012
Oh no!! You poor thing! We have also learnt the hard way about backing up files. Ours back up to an external drive, but we also have an online service that backs it up to some sort of server in the USA. Think it costs about $5/month, but worth it if there is a disaster.
posted October 29th, 2012
Oh no... Hard lesson to learn. I back up my photos & important files on a regular basis. Also thinking ov getting a fire proof safe.
posted October 29th, 2012
A similar thing happened to me when I used Dropbox (cloud type storage) - I started to move all my photo files into Dropbox and then realised that because I was trying to move the whole folder that the estimated time was a few days!! So I thought I'd delete the files uploading to dropbox to start again, I didn't realise that I was deleting the actual files stored on my computer as they weren't copies of my original files, but the actual started deleting EVERYTHING I'd saved as images for the last 2 years!!! After several heartbreaking days, I found a recovery tool online (can't remember the name but it was recommended by an IT guy at work, I would never use one that wasn't recommended) and managed to rescue 90% of my images! I was seriously relieved and immediately bought an external hard drive. I try to reduce the amount of images first and do all my editing etc before backing up but that's not always possible. I also have my main computer and now that I've mastered Cloud storage, I am starting to do a secondary backup in small stages. I've started with Amazon Cloud which is free up to 5Gb and then about £6 a year up to 20Gb etc. There are other free Clouds out there so you could potentially use several but I would rather have everything in one place so will pay the small fee once my 5Gb is used up. It's a major lesson to learn about backing files up, and if you can learn it from someone elses mistakes it will safe you a lot of heartache :0)
posted October 29th, 2012
I hope it is just your power pack Monika & the data is safe..
My external network 'backup' drive failed this year & I lost a lot of consolidated & organised data that had not been backed-up a second time. This was only only two months after my laptop had died & I had not got around to making duplicate copies of the backup...Grrrr... so now I have a dual NAS & hope the chances of both drives dying at the same time are small.
I am thinking a drop-box account might be the way forward - does anyone here use one?

posted October 29th, 2012
@ltodd @sarajeal Thanks, I think it was a power supply problem so hopefully the hard drive is ok and the tech can recover the important stuff. I' hoping its not too expensive, its going to take a long time to back up as it was almost full. Total Bummer that it happened within days of my 1TB hard drive showing up! I was thinking about cloud storage too, does anyone know of a good one, I did a test one recently and it took ages to upload just one folder.
@ltodd what is dual NAS?
posted October 29th, 2012
Sorry to hear about your laptop but you should be able to retrieve your files unless the Hard Disc died. Thanks for the reminder!
posted October 29th, 2012
When I took a digital photography class the instructor told us to back up our back up drives. The way the instructor does it is, put everything on a external and then get another external and a safe box at the bank. No matter what happens to her computer or 1st external she knows she has another one sitting at a bank. I have yet to do the second external that is stored somewhere other than my house but I am going to hopefully soon.
posted October 29th, 2012
@ltodd I mentioned dropbox above and my mistake was to not realise that it is a folder stored on your computer but accessible from anywhere - therefore if you delete something from dropbox you have deleted the file so just be wary. I hate dropbox for that reason but its possibly just my lack of technical ability LOL! ;0) @monika64 I have started using the Amazon Cloud and its really simple and quick - I'm doing small uploads but so far no problems and I can organise all the folders in exactly the same way as they are organised on my pc. Skydrive is another Cloud storage that I've heard good things about.
posted October 29th, 2012
@monika64 - ahhhhh - my (limited) understanding is that a dual Network Attached Storage (NAS) contains 2 independent hard drives that mirror each other immediately data is written to the storage. I have copied all the files from one pc and two laptops onto it & can work on the files across the network at almost the same speed as working from the laptop harddrive. A weekly 'true' back up is made from the NAS to another external harddrive. I know the system is still not *perfect*, so wondered about the drop box.
@christabug - absolutely agree - back up the backup, I found that out the hard way!
posted October 29th, 2012
Ahh, cloud hype!

Cloud storage solutions (Dropbox, Skydrive, etc) don't necessarily work well as backup solutions. They can be used as such, but their primary aim is to allow the same file to be accessible (and kept up to date) in multiple places -- so you edit a photo on one computer, and the edited file is immediately accessible on another computer somewhere else, without needing to do anything.

However, you can use them as an online backup solution -- it's just relatively expensive for a lot of data. Note that they do allow you to recover deleted files -- so @sarajeal, if it was less than 30 days since you hit delete, you can still get your 'lost' data back by following the instructions here:

There are more cost-effective options for online backup, especially if you have a lot of data. The one I personally use is CrashPlan -- it's super-easy to use, and you can store unlimited data for $50 a year. (I have 900GB of photos -- Dropbox charge $499 a year for 500GB storage). It's also much more flexible as to what is backed up, when it's backed up, and so on. Note that they don't provide the 'synchronising' between multiple machines -- they solely provide a backup for lost data.

The other problem with any of these systems is speed, particularly initially -- your computer has to send the data to their computers, and the speed it can do this is limited by your internet connection. When you first sign up, you need to send all your data to them -- this could be many gigabytes.

I have what is, compared to most people, an extremely fast 'net connection, and to get my 900GB of photos sent to the remote system would take my connection approximately 9 days of solid data transfer (that's being left on 24 hours a day). On a more typical broadband connection, that much data would take about 45 days solid. On a 'slow' broadband connection, it would take 3-6 months. And that doesn't take into consideration any data transfer limits that your broadband provider may have (which states you can only transfer a certain amount of data with them per month). Once you've done that initial upload, it generally becomes unnoticeable, because you are taking far fewer photos (and hence, far less data) than your connection can upload in a given time, so it's always able to keep on top of it. But that first, initial upload can be a major problem if you have a large photo library and a slow connection.
posted October 29th, 2012
Backing up should be part of your workflow. Download files, Make copy for edits, then make two external copies. Keep one external copy somewhere away from home only then and then only should you dive in and have fun ha.

I lost a few pictures at the beginning of the year because I hadn't done this straight away, it was only about 100 files or so and nothing special.

I learned my lesson a long time ago when I lost 6 years worth of homemade music along with all of my working files, samples and such. It was a disaster but a disaster that taught me good habits.
posted October 29th, 2012
Thanks for the reminder - backed up to external hard drive, cloud and spare pen drives.

posted October 29th, 2012
Poor you! Hopefully you will be able to recover your data but thanks for reminding us all, I shall now go home and do the full back up I have been "gonna do tomorrow" for a couple of weeks!!
posted October 29th, 2012
@abirkill Thanks Alexis - Dropbox didn't give me that option at the time, it was over a year ago and they were most unhelpful so I had to do a file recovery myself. I use an external hard drive for my main core of work and have only just started using Amazon Cloud as an additional safety harness :0)
posted October 29th, 2012
I too have an external hard drive but recently I also signed up for Mozy. I have 14,000 photos on my macbook which are too precious for me to lose so my husband persuaded me to pay for a plan. It costs me $9.99 a month ( I started with the cheaper one at $5.99 but had too much data for it to back up completely) but I think its worth it as I would be heartbroken if i lost my family pictures. I also back up to the cloud. Hope that helps and that you find the right option for you :)
posted October 29th, 2012
Expensive but well worth it. I have it ...mirror mode.

@abirkill is right about cloud storage re: photos. Speed is the major problem...
@ltodd great response. Yes back up the back up. I plan to store my backup of my backup offsite as well.
posted October 29th, 2012
You can publish to Picasa or Flickr to keep some photos out of the house and on the cloud. 365 will keep your very best shots safe too :-) Backup is so important though. But you only find out the hard way.
posted October 29th, 2012
I'm afraid I learnt the hard way as well so since then I back up everything on my laptop every week religiously.
posted October 29th, 2012
I use Carbonite. It costs me $60/year and it is the best peace of mind that $60 can buy. I am a Realtor and have lost data before. Now, everything is always backed up and I know which files are and which ones are waiting. I recently told my sister (who is also a Realtor). When her computer crashed she was so excited that she had listened to me.

I agree that it took a long time to do the intial upload. My computer guru uses Carbonite and she also uses an external harddrive with Shadowprotect. That will take an image of your harddrive, which is much faster to re-instate in the event of failure. Notice that she uses both.
posted October 29th, 2012
I am posting a mirror to Capture Wisconsin that uses Fotomoto for prints/selling and I can download the original photo back if need be so having my favorite photo's posted gives me a little bit of peace of mind
posted October 29th, 2012
that always scares me... my computer is well over 10 years old and the memory is almost completely full. If I had money, I'd buy me an external hard drive. Is there a free website where I can save important documents?
posted March 23rd, 2013
@abirkill ~Alexis - I respect your expertise so much! I just recently had an incident with wine and my laptop, afraid the wine won. I got my new laptop today. I've been double backing up my external hard drive with JustCloud, but haven't been super impressed with their service. And yes it took weeks to get all my data on there! Ack. I'm thinking of switching now with my new computer. Are you still happy with CrashPlan, or have you heard good things about any other online backup? Thanks!!
posted March 24th, 2013
@kph129 Sorry to hear about your laptop!

I'm still very happy with CrashPlan, although I've not had to use the service 'in anger' to recover from a lost data situation yet (thankfully!)

However, I have chosen to use the service a few times to restore files when I'm out and about (so if I'm on vacation with my laptop and need to get a file I forgot to put on it, I go to their website and can view all my backed up data and choose the file I want) so I have good confidence that the data is secure and intact. And as I said in my original post, these services should be classed as a secondary backup to an existing backup, rather than the only recovery solution (which I see you are already doing).

Unfortunately, moving to any new backup system will require the same synchronization step that took weeks last time (this is determined by the speed of your Internet connection, so it will take a long time regardless of who you use). When you have a large amount of data, this is a significant reason *not* to move providers. I guess it depends on how unhappy you are with your current provider.

Putting on my geek hat, the online backup providers I hear consistently good things about are CrashPlan, Carbonite, Mozy and BackBlaze. Last time I did a comparison, CrashPlan provided the best solution for me. You may wish to take a look at the others and see if any of them offer a feature you think would be useful, but I certainly have no hesitation in continuing to recommend CrashPlan.
posted March 25th, 2013
@abirkill ~ Thanks Alexis. I think I'll stick it out with JustCloud for the time being - I wish upload time were more manageable, although we have upgraded our internet connection. Will keep your other suggestions in mind!
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