Posted on September 21, 2015

Caroline Blaker


BACK UP ALL THE THINGS (meme derivative of Hyperbole and a Half)

Most esteemed readers - friends, colleagues, family;

Back up your Stuff.

Please, please, please have multiple methods to back up your electronic things. Please have a way to dig it out of "Lost and Gone Forever," especially, especially if you are its author. You are reading this because I spent a couple of harrowing hours today trying to decide if I should axe part of an online presence I had over some key missing ingredients that were lost and gone. LOST AND GONE. Do you axe the work? Or do you add "Image removed" to your points and kill an article hinging on visuals? Or worse - do you ghost along and pretend like nothing is broken?

Trying to decide this was the worst moment of recent memory. These assets had been deleted and there was no recourse of retrieval in their original place. Furthermore, they had been gone for awhile, and different things that I do in my day-to-day to be a better developer had ironically masked this. They had been showing up, until they stopped! When they stopped, they had been gone for over a year. I didn't believe at first that this was even possible, yet here it was and despite being able to think clearly about what possible recourse there was, I could not find a way, and the tears just would not stop. I never want you to feel like this.

There are great ways to back up your stuff. Choose at least 2:

  • Local Backup Drive - find & buy a local, external hard drive that just sits near your computer and hums every once in awhile (or maybe it's quiet! I don't know.) Most modern operating systems come with software to back up and restore files in the ways that they prefer, making it much easier to use than the average printer. Bonus: after you buy the drive, no additional costs are incurred.
  • Cloud Backup Service - Carbonite, Mozy, CrashPlan, or Back Blaze can restore your files instantly but have the added benefit of not being stored in a local drive - so they can't be stolen or destroyed by your errant feline friend. You need to have internet access & be able to subscribe to a plan to the tune of around $60/year for this to be a viable option for you.
  • Cloud Drives - Google Drive, DropBox & other players are great for backing up and sharing work files - less good for backing up your whole system. Arguably, you wouldn't want to store state secrets on these services, but they are terrific for large files (like website design PSD's, etc) that don't contain state secrets that you might need to pass around. Also, these sometimes require manual choosing of files to back up, which may not be enough, if you're kind of the hands-off type, like me.

This hideous experience of raw helplessness got me thinking about backups - and ultimately, that saved me. I went to my Carbonite account and found that it contains a snapshot of my computer NOW - not, say, a year ago (boo..) but I went into my Time Machine (Mac's proprietary software that stores snapshots on my LBD,) and I FOUND (some of) MY MISSING THINGS. The rest I was able to either fake inconsequentially or didn't need backups- they were on my local machine already.

You back things up because it will save you in the future, which for me, was today. It can mean that you don't throw away work that you're still proud of. Or, you can shed things without even knowing it for long periods of time, which feels awful. Don't let that be you. BACK IT UP!!

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