Why Should You or I Backup Data?

Why Should You or I Backup Data?

A fourtish woman returned to graduate school at UofX to earn a master degree. Seven years of research, accumulating data, and writing a thesis were all documented on just one thumb/jump drive.

Last fall with her thesis ready for final review and tweaking, she parked her car, leaving the thumb in her purse, in the car, and went for a run. An hour later, at home she realized her purse, bank cards, SS card, uncashed checks, and the precious thumb drive were missing. Worst of all there was NO backup! :smack:

She immediately notified the police, cancelled the credit cards, and tracked purchases made by the thief prior to cancellation. Following the trail of stores the next day she parked near a fast food shop and saw a large trash bin to the rear of the shop. It seemed to say “I’m here.” Thinking “that’s IT, she jumped into the bin and started digging and throwing boxes, papers, cups, etc. Found her gym bag, then clothing, finally her purse at the bottom, and the precious jump drive.
From The Washington Post (no cite).
Republished in the (Knoxville) News Sentinel on 1/3/06


Back up your data today!
Tomorrow 1/5/06 the virus may take over your PC!

Do you have any reason to NOT backup?

I’m hopelessly lazy? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, that’s part of it. The other part is that it would take 74 DVD-5 discs to actually perform a full backup on my system (uncompressed data). DVD-9s are too expensive right now to make using them for backups feasable.

Maybe when HVDs are released and trickle down to a reasonably priced level then backups won’t be so painful. Of course by then we could be running with 5TB drives, too… :smack:

No one in their right mind would use DVDs to back up an entire system - just get an external hard drive (or two).

I agree that one should backup essential data, but, to be honest, there isn’t anything on my home machine that I’d consider essential. My IM clients store all the contact lists on the server anyway, all my e-mail is now done through Yahoo or Gmail, my very limited creative efforts are available from various websites and would not be a great loss to the world even if they were to be annihilated, and anything I’ve done in the way of actual work is on the machines at work or my clients’ websites.

That’s what I thought… until recently.

Took it in for minor repair. They did me a “favor” by sending back to Apple who repaired it free. Including replacing the ‘mother’ board and hard drive.

Just wait til you need all that unimportant stuff.

No reason not to back up.

Not sure if this is a GQ question (or response), but the grad student in question has just shattered the benchmark for world-class naivete. As an aside, her story sounds rather improbable too.

Two big questions:

  1. Seven years of research for a master’s degree?
  2. Her thesis was entirely on her flash drive–with nothing stored on any PC hard drive anywhere?

Not true. Sure, if you have a terabyte RAID system, backing up with DVDs would be too expensive and time-consuming to be practical. But, if you’re like me (or, in fact, most people with home computers), and have only a few to a few dozen gigs to back up, DVDs work just fine. I have my system backed up onto 4 DVD+Rs.


Thank you for sharing, spingears.

This is more an MPSIMS type thread, hmm?

I’ll back it up on my flash drive and move it there for you.


Improbable as it may be, it was reported in the Post as front-page news (the Post has a very strange idea of what should be front-page news IMHO) as cited in the OP. One presumes that the Washington Post does its fact checking.

She wasn’t naive, she ignored explicit advice to make a backup. I think many people do not back up their data; I do not think this is out of ignorance but out of “that won’t happen to me” thinking. It’s kind of like not wearing your seat belt.

That’s almost the definition of “naive”.

It’s not that far-fetched… if it isn’t true, very similar things have happened to other very silly people. As for being like not wearing your seatbelt, I’d extend it to being like not wearing one on a roller-coaster. Plenty of people have never been in a car accident - data loss is a near guarantee.

I also second Hombre’s post about ‘unimportant data’ BTW. Nothing like realizing your bookmarks, last dozen digital photos, savegames from 3 months of playing GTA3 and favourite ‘funny’ video someone sent you are all lost to the ether.
It’s very difficult to back up all your data (especially when people have multiple computers to take care of), but for 150$ I have a 200 gig drive on my server that’s dedicated to backup up just the important stuff from all my PCs. Which won’t help if I go home to find out my computer room is on fire, but still!

Well, comparing the effort involved in redownloading that sort of thing and backing it up, my opinion is unchanged. :slight_smile: (Actually, I don’t use bookmarks, I don’t have a camera, and I don’t play videogames. So I only have one item on that list in the first place).

Again, if anyone has important career/finance-related material on their home machines, then, yes, it should be backed up. I don’t, and I’m sure I’m not the only person in this position.

My SO and I wrote our theses back in the days before thumb drives and such. We were so worried we would occasionally put an updated disk and hard copy in our safe deposit box.

How many of you have an off site backup? The external hard drive in your computer room isn’t going to help you much if your house burns down.

I have around 1 MB of data that I consider valuable enough to back up. I have a copy at work, a copy at home, and a copy on my iPod Shuffle. I guess that counts as off-site.

If my house burns down, data loss will be the least of my problems, I should think.

Assuming my dogs and I survive without injuries, data loss would be my biggest concern. It’s literally irreplaceable: results of years of research, e-mail communications, and all photos I’ve taken in the past 8 years. My material possessions are much easier to replace.

Which is why I keep a full backup of my home PC in my office, and vice versa.

Of course. You can’t apply my situation to everyone. If you’ve got absolutely irreplaceable data you simply cannot afford to lose, then keeping an offsite backup is only prudent. I have no such data, hence my post. It wasn’t meant as a prescription for everyone. :slight_smile:

The only really irreplaceable data I have can be archived into a file just a couple megabytes, and uploaded to my free Yahoo! suitcase. You get like 30 megabytes free, and it’s one of the most stable internet sites out there, unlikely to just disappear one day. I think you can buy more space, but I’m not sure.

Unofficially, I offsite backup the code I write for my job my archiving it and emailing it to my gmail account. I work for a little company, and I don’t trust the backup procedures here. Because I don’t know if there are any!