The Need for System Backups, Part 1 of 4
By Kevin J. Vella, Uniblue Systems
I really hope that what you are going to read in the next few lines has
never happened to you. It was a Sunday, Sunday the 23rd November 2003 at 4
p.m. to be precise. I was in my final months of Graduate Business School,
working on a paper due the following week. Also, two chapters of my
research project were ready and stashed on my hard drive – no hard copies,
just bits and bytes created over a three months. I was punching away at my
keyboard when all of a sudden, my notebook slowed dramatically. I started
closing down open applications in the hope of speeding up my machine. I
was not too worried though as this had happened to me before. My fix was
the usual reboot. While my machine was rebooting I obliviously went to fix
myself a sandwich. When I returned to my desk, I saw a black screen with a
one short phrase: “drive C not present, retry, ignore, abort?” Naturally,
I clicked retry. Seconds after the screen went black. I felt an eeriness
seeping through my innards. I tried rebooting again. White words, blank
screen, panic. Reboot again and again. My mind, glued up. I spent the next
ten hours playing with this blessed machine. The next day, I took the hard
drive to her office to try taking an image of the blessed device. The
result: nothing, except anger, loss and regret.
I lost 2.5 Gigabytes – two years worth of assignments, documents, lecture
notes and articles. On top of that, the notebook that I was using was the
same one I used at work. On it I also had stored four years worth of work
documents, brochures, customer databases, emails, email addresses,
marketing plans, competitive information, and much more. Nothing was
backed up and hardly little was printed.
Why didn’t I back up? I honestly thought that disaster happens to other
people. I thought of backup as a tedious procedure to take all the files
on one drive and individually stick them onto floppies or on some other
storage device. I firmly believed that my hard drive would never die on me
while I was studying. After this episode, I did however buy several USB
drives and a CD Burner. I also spent a fortune in CDs to store the
individual files I created after 11.22.
Most people and, sadly enough, most businesses, only react to disaster
after the damage is done. This is “OK” because, at least, they are doing
something to prevent future attacks. However, can you imagine if I were to
put a price tag on the data I lost, the time I wasted in trying to recover
the data, the products I bought, the time my colleagues spent helping, the
time and money spent to build the customer database? I put in the region
of $50,000 to $75,000 including lost potential short-term revenues for my
My strategy for preventing disaster was seriously flawed. True, you must
save and save again however imaging a hard drive in its native format onto
a number of media is not a long-term solution. There are better ways of
doing it. Backup software allows you to take all your data and compress it
into an archive that is small enough to be handled on the least amount of
storage devices. My method is expensive and extremely time consuming
because there is my physical and constant input while backup software
essentially does everything on its own.
I hope I have raised an urgency rather than mere awareness to the
importance of backing up. Over the coming weeks, I will cover two other
important aspects – the need for a planned backup strategy (if you have a
business) and the features that you have to look out for if you want an
all-round robust backup solution.
Ironically, since then I have changed jobs and am now working for Uniblue
Systems, the makers of WinBackup 2.0 (to be released on February 24th).
This is how seriously I am taking backing up!
Read Part 1 : Part 2
: Part 3 :
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