Thursday, 26 February 2009

backups

It seems to me that backups are a fundamental requirement for any IT professional. I'm not talking about those monolithic backups for various disparate systems, I'm talking about backing up your day to day working environment or even just those essential documents that you happen to keep on your machine, if things go wrong this can cause a lot of hassle, extreme embarrasement, or worse - loss of income.

The Good

Mac. One of the things I love about my Mac(s) is Time Machine. Having TimeCapsule also helps, but I suspect that one could even manage without that. I don't have to worry what I need to backup, I worry about what I don't need to backup. Time Machine gives me incremental backups and a fantastic UI to go hunting for those old files when I need to do a restore.

It has already proved it's worth to me when I cocked up my Eclipse environment. Setting up Eclipse, various plugins and Flex Builder can take several painful hours, but I just headed back to the last known good version of Eclipse that was backed up and simply restored it.

And in a really bad situation, for instance if my MacBook Pro were to go kaput and I have to get a new one, I simply select to do a full restore from my TimeCapsule when I set up the OS for the first time. It might take an hour or so because it'll be several GB in size, but it's easier than reconfiguring the OS and reinstalling all that software from scratch.

The Bad

Windows. I was never able to work out a really satisfactory backup solution. I used AlwaysSync for some stuff and xcopy batch scripts for others. I had to maintain what was backed up and when and the OS just didn't seem to come with a straight forward backup solution. At a minimum you should synchronize important folders *daily* and preferably to multiple locations.

The Ugly

Not having any backup. Using Google Documents (as I do) and Google Mail (as I do) means that actually I don't have a lot to worry about, but having important documents on your computer and not backing them up is unforgiveable. Even if your machine doesn't out-right die, you risk corruptions or virus infection.

So ask yourself - how quickly could you get back up and running if your machine died right now, or if your important document folder somehow got deleted? Have you tested restoring from your backup strategy? Give yourself some piece of mind; get a backup strategy and test it. Make it the next thing on your to do list.

Backups - come on ... that's IT 101!

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