Everybody says “back up your important data.” Some even say “back up everything, no matter how important or trivial.” Me, I’m in the latter category. But even if you’re backing up everything, having multiple concurrent backup strategies can save you a lot of time and tears.
Here is my story:
Today, my computer started acting extremely sluggishly, as if a program had decided to consume all of it’s resources. Unlike past incidents of this nature, it wasn’t overheating as far as I could tell. Dashboard widgets were not updating weather information, various parts of the interface took minutes to respond to my clicks, and when I tried to use CMT-Tab with CMD-Q to quit the biggest resource hogs, they very slowly began to save data or prompt me to save it, and then quit. Except that only a few would do what they were told. After 1/2 hour of this, I shut my laptop and took it to work.
Upon opening my trusty four year old macboook pro, it showed a blank screen, sounded a boot-up gong, and then the grey screen, apple logo, and spinning activity indicator. For another twenty minutes, that’s all I got.
So I powered the computer off, hooked up my week-old SuperDuper! backup via USB and held down Option while hitting the power button. It booted just fine, I set Disk Utility to repair the disk, and three hours later, it reported that it couldn’t be repaired. I couldn’t even mount it.
I had tweaked a lot of settings for software I already had, and updated a couple of them for free (such as Scrivener 2.0.3). No problem, that’s not a huge tragedy to loose those tweaks, and I can re-download all of my updates. But I had also been working on a book for the last week, and had added several thousands of words since my last SuperDuper! backup. clutches chest I took a deep breath, and considered my options.
1 week-old clone of my hard drive at work.
2 A slightly fresher Time Machine backup at home (I hadn’t worked in my office since the weekend).
3. A thumb drive that automatically makes a copy of my Documents folder whenever I plug it in (two or more weeks stale).
4. An iDisk folder to which all of my Scrivener backups are written.
The last was the most important, because it’s done automatically, no matter where I am, so long as I’m connected to the internet. I have Scrivener set to automatically back up when I close a project, and I often manually click the backup icon if I don’t want to quick Scrivener just then.
I logged into me.com, browsed my backups directory, and there it was: a date-stamped backup from 10:30pm yesterday. I immediately popped in my thumb drive and copied my manuscript backup to it. My day was saved!
I now have several decisions to make regarding my current laptop’s hard drive: Should I just reformat and restore from backup? Replace it with a 500 gb hard drive like I’ve wanted to for years and then restore from backup? Download a utility to see if the hard drive is somehow broken? But there is one thing I won’t have to decide: How to re-write a week’s worth of my book.
So please, consider at least TWO backup strategies, one of which should be zipped backups to either Drop Box, iDisk, or any equivalent on-line storage that does it’s thing AUTOMATICALLY. Do not rely on backups that require you to be present in a particular place (if you use a laptop), or for you to put thought into making the backup.
USE SCRIVENER’S BACKUP FEATURE. EVERY. TIME. YOU. WRITE.
I’m glad I did.