Regardless of the interests that you have, it’s most likely that you have already accumulated huge amounts of data across the years. However you put it, these data is a big part of your life already. From your college papers, your business presentations, to your accounting and tax sheets, from your technical whitepapers to personnel performance reports, from your photos, to your scanned artwork and your music. You bring these along with you in your laptop, or maybe stash them on a home or office computer and feel secure that they’re all there safe and sound.
There has been significant advances in harddisk technology especially as far as their robustness and reliability are concerned. So, what’s there to worry about, right? Murphy’s Law. :)
Based on my own and others’ experience, these would just be some of the reasons why you would want to have a really good and reliable backup:
These robust, reliable, and nearly-shockproof harddisks still do fail.
While these disks may be covered by warranty and easily replaced, once they conk out on you, your data may be gone forever. What warranty can cover that? Sometimes all it takes to make a man cry is an accidental but jarring drop on the floor resulting to a catastrophic hard disk crash.
Your laptop may be stolen.
Laptops can be replaced as disks above but not your data, your precious data. A friend of mine got her Mac stolen from a half-open car window. Nothing stopped the thief from doing so despite the car being in motion. If she had a Time Machine backup, I wouldn’t have felt sorry for her. After all, she can always get a new Mac and restore her backup there. But she didn’t and now, she’s practically redoing everything. Has she learned something from that lesson? I hope so! :)
Merciless Acts of God.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis. Yeah, this world is nearing its doom. But if you can have your data secure somewhere, you’ll have one less problem in your hands. :)
A Paranoid Advise
Disks are getting cheaper already. For general use, the more portable 2.5″ drives which just requires a single USB or FireWire port is always a good choice. While it may be pricey for some of us, just consider the peace of mind it’ll give you and that’ll be your ROI already. Some companies provide for their employees’ backup requirements but most likely than not, you’re on your own. Either way, it’s in your best interest to make sure that your data is well secure.
Use tools like Time Machine, Super Duper, or Carbon Copy Cloner.
These tools are so advanced (actually, the tech is quite old, they just made the process simpler) that after making a full backup of your system, they are able to track the tiniest change (a new or recently editted file, etc) and back that up. They also allow you to back track on a timeline so you can easily restore that file or folder that you accidently deleted.
At least, once when you get home from work, and once before you leave for work. That way, any work you do in and outside the office is safely backed up. If you’ve done a considerable amount of work in less time, feel free then to do a backup as necessary. Autosave sometimes just ain’t enough anymore.
Store your backup somewhere safe.
I choose to keep my backup disk at home while it’s sometimes a better idea to store them in the office. If needed, keep multiple backups for paranoia’s sake and store them at a friend’s house across town. Just like your meds, these are better kept in a cool and dry place, away from rowdy children.
Keep your backup disk fresh
Replace your backup disk every three to four years to ensure optimal disk health. These disks, like the ones you’re using on your laptop or workstation will die eventually. Make sure you have an alternative before that happens.
You see, I’m that type of person who carefully puts laptops on desks making sure there is no shock at all, and yet, I’ve had several close calls myself with disks being populated by bad blocks, and with disks which just died conveniently on me. There’s just too much to lose but doing backups definitely minimized the risks. For your sake, I hope you do, too. :)