Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's your backup plan?

What's your backup plan?

Happy New Year's everybody!

This week, maybe as a send-off to 2013, my hard drive crashed. One minute it was working fine, and the next I got a pop-up window saying my device could not be read. If you're like me, this could have been devastating. I had everything stored on that drive - 13 years' worth of family photos, videos, and music, along with my entire real estate business, and just about everything else I've worked on over the last decade or two...

Photo - my dead drive, with my backup drive (left) and my new backup drive (right).

This isn't going to be a typical real estate post, but I do think this is an important topic. And while I'm not going to write about New Year's Resolutions this year, it seems like an opportune time to ask the question:

"What would you do if your computer / tablet / smart phone didn't boot up tomorrow?"

The thing about technology, it doesn't matter if we're talking about computers, or tablets, or cell phones, and it doesn't matter whether you use Windows, or iOS, or Android, is that it will fail. Eventually all technology fails. (It's more common that we lose or damage our phones, but that counts too.)

Today there are more ways then ever before to sync and backup your stuff:

  • Online backup services like Crashplan, Mozy, and Carbonite.
  • Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon.
  • Device backup/sync with iCloud, Google+, and Skydrive.
  • For Photos, Flickr and Shutterfly allow massive amounts of photo storage. I'm sure there are dozens of others, too, but those are the two I've used.
  • External Storage (my choice) - plug in an external hard drive and copy everything to that drive. And if that's your only copy, plug in a 2nd one so you have 2 copies.

My method of choice was born out of convenience. I work from multiple computers and multiple locations throughout the day, so I carry a portable harddrive with me, and my portable drive has EVERYTHING on it - way too much data to store and access in the cloud, plus I don't have to worry about having a good internet connection to access any cloud storage.

However, since I carry everything with me, I need to be prepared for if/when I lose or damage that drive. So, I have a 2nd portable harddrive plugged into my primary computer, and whenever I work from that computer the primary drive is backed up onto the 2nd drive. This way I always have a current backup of all my stuff. (And because I'm a backup fanatic, I also have a 3rd portable drive that I store in a different location and backup to once a month. That way, even if something devastating happens to both of my main drives, I'll still only lose a small amount of data. But I get that that's over the top for most people..)

So, back to the question at hand: "What would you do if your computer / tablet / smart phone didn't boot up tomorrow?"

Me? I simply switched to my secondary drive and continued to work as if nothing had happened. I spent a couple hours trying to trouble-shoot and bring my primary drive back to life. But once I had to pronounce it dead, I went to Best Buy and bought another one (1 terabyte for $65) to become my new backup. Quick, painless, and without any data loss.

Again, I'm not here to preach about New Year's Resolutions, but I do think it's important, now that everything in our lives runs on technology, to have a plan in place for when that technology fails.

I'd encourage you to spend a few minutes (and/or a few dollars) looking into one of the solutions above to make sure you won't lose anything important, or irreplaceable, when your device lets you down.

Hopefully this is one of the ways you can make 2014 a great year!

-Chris Butterworth