...it's a matter of WHEN
By Bob Sprankle
(this is part 2 of the post that Cheryl Oakes started on Tuesday... a "passing the baton" of ideas, if you will)
One reason we bought our house was because it had a sump pump. It has served us well over the past 5 years, only coming on when needed (rarely), dormant and waiting and ready to serve the rest of the time. It is there for the "worst of times and the best of times" and we never think about it. It's our insurance; our backup. Never did we think of backing up the backup.
Enter "Ice Storm '08" and 12 hours of no power and we have our first flooded basement. If we could have kept the sump pump going, we wouldn't have had a drop down there. Solution: backup the backup. Time to get a generator so this never happens again.
I feel a bit embarrassed that I never thought I needed a generator and yet knew the importance of the sump pump. My mind stopped at the first line of defense and didn't travel further into thinking about what would happen when that was in danger. Bringing this back to the world of computers and important data, what's your backup's backup?
As Cheryl stated in Tuesday's post it's not a matter of IF it will happen, but WHEN it will happen. Let me state this clearly: your computer will die someday. It will never die at a good time. It will always be a bad time when it decides to leave this world behind. I know, I know... you don't want to hear any of this. You paid so much money for the thing, and it's been so loyal, day in, day out. But it will betray you on a day when you most need it and leave you high and dry with a dark cloud of technology blues hanging over you. If you don't have a backup, you will learn first-hand that this was a foolish way to live and you will vow to change your ways because now you know the pain. Will you, however, be ready for the pain when your backup also dies?
This weekend with the ice storm, I spent most of my time sucking up water with a wet vac. The carpet guys came with their big fans and it looks like we're going to be ok... the rug may not need to be replaced. I could go back into denial and forgo the purchase of an expensive generator, thinking, "This was a fluke. Rain and power outage together... Chance of it ever happening again are pretty slim. Why bother backing up my backup? I just dodged a bullet. I'm safe."
Last weekend I spent my entire Sunday at the Apple Store in Portland, ME as the expert and aptly named "Geniuses" sucked all the data off my barely one year-old computer in order to put it on the new computer that I was forced to buy due to the inconceivable death of the old one. I stayed all day waiting for the data to be transferred because just the day before, my main backup drive that I use faithfully every day to backup my data suddenly became unreadable. It was a blank slate. I did have another backup because I've learned to backup twice every day with two entirely different hard drives, but this was done in a format that isn't as friendly to restore (OS X's Time Machine)... more of a temporary solution. With only one shaky backup at home, you bet I waited for them to transfer all my data to the new machine. That night, I immediately backed it up all over again. Twice.
There's a new service I ran across the other day, called BackBlaze that will automatically backup your data from your computer to their servers. The price is cheap: $5 a month per computer with no storage limit. Having your data offsite ensures an extra layer of safety in the event of a fire (or other castrophe) that would take out the two external backup drives that are sitting right next to each other. I'm considering it... that would give my backup's backup a backup. I know... this can get out of hand.