Reminder: Back up your data!

Hey folks, this borked hard drive is  just a friendly reminder to back up your data! Hint: You should not see grooves in the platters of a hard drive, so stuff happens.  In this case a warped bearing caused the platter to shift a few microns and the heads dug into the platters as they spun about at 7200 RPM.  So, make sure to have your photographs backed up in at least one other location, preferably two.  My data (scientific and photographic) is triply redundant with an off site backup as well.  Its a bit more hassle, but if the lab or house burns down, I still have years of work backed up. I figure if both locations, far enough apart to avoid most things short of an apocalypse, burn to the ground, then we have bigger societal problems to deal with and my data/photos are not going to mean a whole lot at that point.

Unsolicited endorsements:  There are a variety of ways and means to back up your data.  A simple solution that I like to use for my desktop systems (and one that we use in the lab) is the Time Machine function in Apple’s OS X.  All you need is a second hard drive device and OS X will automatically take snapshots of your hard drive and back up your primary hard drive completely transparently.  Its fast and convenient.  Other alternatives are using applications like Super Duper! to clone your hard drive to create a bootable backup (something else I do for my primary workstation) and cloud based options like Crashplan to store your data online.  I also use Apple’s semi-cloud based option to store manuscripts and project online that I am working on.  This allows me to work of projects/documents from anywhere on any system I happen to have access to (desktop, laptop, iPad, iPhone).  It also allows me to keep address books, calendars and more synchronized across multiple systems and provides redundancy in case a phone, laptop etc… suffers damage or is lost/stolen.

For larger data needs, my data solutions rely on Data Robotics Drobo automated RAID devices.  You can get redundant protection lots of different ways, but the cool thing about the Drobos is that you can mix and match hard drives.  So, as different hard drive models (and sizes) come and go, you are not limited to completely trashing the RAID infrastructure of your array if a drive fails and you cannot find an identical drive anymore.  Systems are robust enough these days so that scenario is pretty uncommon, but its bitten me before.  There are other pros and cons to using Drobos, but honestly, I find them to be the most hassle free solution to backing up your data and are well worth the investment.

4 Replies to “Reminder: Back up your data!”

  1. that drobo set up … WOW.

    some day :D but yes! for now I’ve the local hard drives as well as off-site in Backblaze.

  2. CrashPlan also works great if you have family/friends with fast internet and spare hard drive space. I use my parents’ PC as my off-site backup, and it’s free.

  3. That drobo setup is cool. It makes some of the raid solutions that I used to work with look archaic. I’m pretty impressed by the fact that they’re so functional and sleek in appearance. It used to be that you’d buy something that looked like it belonged in a data-center if you wanted functionality or you’d buy a pretty little box that was highly user friendly (read inflexible).

    Here’s a quick little fun fact about hard drives:
    The read/write head works the same way an airplane wing works. It actually relies on low pressure to fly over the surface of the platter. When a hard drive powers down, the read write head moves to a landing zone and…Well, it lands.

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