01 October, 2007

Back Up Your Files Day

It's the first of the month which means it's Back Up Your Files Day.

This is a bit of a rush job as I thought the first was tomorrow. Since when has September only had 30 days? I wish there was an easy way to remember the amount of days in each month. A rhyme for instance.

Anyway, the first paragraph of last month's post still stands, thanks to the nice extension of the deadline for completed scripts:

"If you're just finished your Red Planet Prize script or are still working on it then copy them across to your flash drive or external hard drive or email them to your webmail account."

I sympathise with anyone who has lost information as someone accidentally cut the power lead to my external hard drive. She could have been electrocuted but, to be honest, I was more worried about losing some of the information on there that I hadn't backed up yet. That might seem callous but the NHS is free and data recovery is really expensive. I only like her, I love my stored info. See, I'm not as bad as you thought.

My computer no longer recognised the external hard drive and I read all sorts of things about how a power loss can fry the circuits but I managed to trick it into working.

While researching (or panicking) about external hard drives, people recommended backing up to DVD as more reliable. Although mine was a freak accident, external hard drives can fail. If you haven't got a DVD writer on your computer you can get an external DVD writer which works through your USB. That's what I did with my previous decrepit computer. They have come down in price a lot.

You can get DVD-Rs which you can only write on once or you can get DVD-RWs which you can write on and delete later.

Check out Morgan for low cost computers and peripherals. Maplins is also worth a look. But sometimes PC World is better value and it's worth doing a comparison check.

Don't delay, do it today. It's Back Up Your Files Day, hooray!

How to decide what data to back up

Back up manually or use Windows XP Backup utility

How to choose an external storage format for backup files

Mac OS X: How to back up and restore your files


Anonymous said...

Curiously, I just picked up the CD from the very very VERY nice man at SPB (my local computer place) with a whole bunch of data from my old computer (the one that DIED on the nineteenth.


Brilliant...now all I have to do is figure out....what to do with it...like do I need to re-install Sophocles???

Robin Kelly said...

That's good news, Shell. Hopefully the data has proper file extensions and you can simply transfer the most important stuff to your new computer - like writing files and personal photos.

The worst thing with a computer crash is re-installing all the software. It's especially annoying if you've changed operating systems from Windows 95/2000/XP to Vista for example.

Which reminds me, in terms of backing up, keeping a copy of all registration information is also useful. It saved me having to buy some of my favourite software again after a crash.

You would need to re-install Sophocles but as you're a registered user that shouldn't be a problem and they'll give you a new unlock code.

I used to make back-ups of software from my Program Files folder but when I transferred the folders to my new machine they never worked.

I realise now that the computer needs instructions how to use that software and that's in the 'registry'. I should have done a registry back up as well.

But keeping the original software and registration details safe is an easier and less complex alternative.

TonyB said...

Hi Robin. By some unfortunate coincidence it's been reported today that Francis Ford Coppola has had his computers stolen from his office.

The latest version of his script for a film he's shooting next year was on the PC, along with 13 years worth of development material and personal files such as family photos.

All this was backed up BUT only to an external hard drive which he kept in the same office and which was also stolen. Shit!

A lesson for everyone there.
I'm sure the script file would have been copied elsewhere so I doubt that's a major problem, but to lose all the other stuff must be soul destroying.

I'm getting more interested in online backing up. A company called Mozy was recommended to me and I've read many good reports of it. They offer two gigabytes of free storage and unlimited storage for 4.95 USD per month. I've tried out the free service and it works a treat - very intuitive and sophisticated system. You can carry on working as you back up and once the initial backup is done it works in the backround backing up new files or those files that have changed. Very easy.

I should point out that this is not an archiving service, ie. if you delete files from the hard drive then Mozy will delete them from the backup, so it only keeps a backup of your current system.

There are other online services that also archive and I'm looking into them.


Robin Kelly said...

Tony, I did catch myself thinking the other day that because my external hard drive isn't part of my computer that if my PC got nicked they'd leave that behind. Can you imagine?

"No, unplug the external hard drive first, Knuckles, let's leave him the back up at least."

"Soz, I wasn't thinking, Gripper, I wouldn't want to ruin his life's work and have him hating us. I feel bad enough doing this for a living as it is."

"Why are you telling me? See a shrink."

"You call us partners, but you're so uncommunicative."

"We're on a job, we'll talk about your feelings later - over a cup of fruit tea and scones while we do our nails."

"It's you who needs to see a shrink about your gender stereotyping and equating being honest and open in a relationship to something only women do."

"They're called feelings because you feel them, if you were meant to talk about them, they'd be called talkings."

"Oh I knew I should have partnered up with Hacksaw Harry instead."

"I'm not stopping you."

"Do you mean that?"

Sorry. I got a bit carried away there.

But as I said previously, a back-up has to be in a separate room. The external hard drives are very convenient way of adding space (and the same price as DVD-Rs) but if you're not going to unplug it and move it out of the room everytime you go out (I for one really couldn't be arsed) then you need to be doing a proper back up that is kept safe.

Hopefully Coppola's thieves are cacking themselves and have handed the stuff back in somewhere rather than dumping it in the bay.

I'm now going to look at online storage for next month, cheers.

TonyB said...

Indeed, the thieves may not want to wake up with horses' heads in their beds so they might just play ball! However, this all happened in Argentina and the thieves sound like pretty hard cases, so who knows what they'll do.

Link to story:


I look forward to your findings next month. Other companies to look at:

Carbonite - good reviews but they don't offer any free storage.

MediaMax - 25 gigs of free storage but maximum file size is only 10Mb unless you pay. Apparently it's good for file sharing and you can even play media files straight off their servers.

Box.net - 1 gig free, file size also limited to 10Mb unless you go for a paid service. I actually found this hard going as it took up too many system resources so I couldn't use the PC as it was backing up.

To avoid: XDrive - lots of reports of difficulties in retrieving data.

TonyB said...

Whoops - the link above was obviously too long for Blogger. Here it is in reduced form:


It links to Associated Press.

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Ha ha, liked that bit...

Lucy recommended Duly Noted (http://www.lucyvee.blogspot.com/) and I remember looking at Script Vault but thinking it was pricey - course that was a couple of years ago.

She also recommended CD's...portable, easily moved/stored in another room. My biggest problem is not thieves, it's my own ineptitude...

OH - hey - have you seen the thing for channel four???? http://www.channel4.com/4talent/pilot/


Robin Kelly said...

Shell, yes, CDs will do for backing up scripts and other small files, instead of DVDs - unless you're writing really big scripts.

Thanks for the heads up about Pilot

johnk said...

Backing up to CD/DVD/external drive and storing them elsewhere in your house/office is a good thing, but not good enough. What happens when your house/office burns down?

A cheery thought, indeed. But stuff happens. Any well-run organisation with sensitive or valuable data has a system for off-site backup. You should too.

Online backup is now fairly cheap, and script/research files are small.

If BT is your ISP, you get BT Vault for free, so use that. I'm sure other ISPs do the same.

If you can't be bothered with that (why not?) then at the very least take a monthly CD/DVD backup disc off site (dump it at a friend's house/whatever).

Robin Kelly said...

Johnk, in the very first BUYFD post I mentioned having a copy of your back-up offsite at friends or family. Although recently I have forgotten about fire and flood risk.

And it's only now I understand the value of online storage as an alternative way of offsite storage rather than just another way of storing stuff.