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 Post subject: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Wed May 05, 2010 6:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:33 pm
Posts: 250
The post on the blog today is about backing up your computer/data. Here are some tips.

Encrypt any important data (especially financial data!). True Crypt (http://truecrypt.org) is free and works on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Compressing the data can make it easier to store. 7-Zip is one of the best out there, it's also free: http://www.7-zip.org/

Password protect anything you can (Excel Documents, 7zip, etc). By themselves they aren't ultra secure, but every bit helps. Password Protection + Encryption.

Duplicate your data. Flash drives are cheap. Make sure you back up to more then one location. Rotate them so you have more than one copy from more than one time period.

Store your data off site. Put a flash drive (encrypted of course) at your relatives house (or in bank deposit box). If your house burns down, you'll still have your financial and insurance information which would be critical in that type of event.

Automate it. Do it every day at a specific time. Just swap out the flash drives when you have your coffee in the morning. Also manually back it up if you make any big changes.

Put a flash drive with your will and also include the password in your will. If you die, it would be good for your loved ones to have all your financial information so they don't have to spend hours hunting all your account information down.

Whatever software you use to back up, make sure you can recover it! Test out your recovery method and *make sure it works*. I once helped a guy recover his data. He backed everything up in a Win3.1 program. Once his Win 3.1 workstation died he upgrade to Win 95 and couldn't find the program he used to backup and was unable to restore his data (luckily some detective work allowed me to find the file format it was saved in and recover it that way). Another quick story was about a SA that was backing up all the company data to tape. The tapes were corrupt and he wasn't able to recover any data. This could of been avoided if he would of tested his recover method before he really needed it.

If you don't mind spending some time learning it, there are two programs (again free): Robocopy (windows) and rsync (linux/mac). This lets you quickly backup your data since it only copies over files that have changed.

Other useful [but more advanced] software would be a Revision control system (svn, perforce, etc). This lets you keep revisions of documents so you can "go back in time" and see every change you've ever made.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 10:06 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:05 am
Posts: 330
That is actually a really good list!

One more to add: If you're a tiny bit tech savvy, if your motherboard has onboard RAID (or if you want to spring for one), and you plan ahead, you can use RAID 1 to mirror your drives. Transparent, on-the-fly back-ups, and in case of failure, well, you keep on trucking.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 7:43 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1264
One question on TrueCrypt:

I wanted to use TrueCrypt to encrypt backups on my flash drive but the dealbreaker for me was that I had to limit my TrueCrypt volume to 4 gigs (because Flash drives are typically formatted as FAT32). This makes backing up complicated because I have to split my files into separate volumes instead of backing them all up to one TrueCrypt volume. How do you get around this? My documents folder alone is about 20 gigs and I have some Outlook pst files that are bigger than 4 gigs.

In general I find that people will only do backups if it's easy, which is why solutions like Apple's Time Machine are great -- you don't have to do anything. For Windows, Seagate makes the Replica drive, which does the same thing but it caused all kinds of havoc with my system whenever my computer went to sleep or entered hibernate mode.

Regarding offsite backups, I think it's worth keeping in mind that backups over the internet are really convenient, but doing a complete restore over the internet is really, really slow (generally taking days, not hours). So I think having physical media for offsite backup is a good way to go if you can't afford a few days of downtime.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 11:10 am
Posts: 317
ekrabs wrote:
...you can use RAID 1 to mirror your drives...

Since the topic is "Computer Backup", I'll point out that RAID of any level above 0 only protects you from physical drive failure. Your data is still exposed to possible damage, corruption, or deletion, whether accidental or malicious.

I store The Vast NoBoB Music Archiveā„¢ on a big RAID 5 array, but I still keep the original CD's, in case a virus deletes the whole drive or I do something stupid like convert the flacs to mp3.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 5:44 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:05 am
Posts: 330
brad wrote:
I wanted to use TrueCrypt to encrypt backups on my flash drive but the dealbreaker for me was that I had to limit my TrueCrypt volume to 4 gigs (because Flash drives are typically formatted as FAT32). This makes backing up complicated because I have to split my files into separate volumes instead of backing them all up to one TrueCrypt volume. How do you get around this?

Your filesystem will have to changed to something else other than FAT. NTFS is probably your best bet. This will require re-formatting and maybe partitioning somewhere, but Truecrypt itself is not the limitation here.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 6:19 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1264
ekrabs wrote:
Your filesystem will have to changed to something else other than FAT. NTFS is probably your best bet. This will require re-formatting and maybe partitioning somewhere, but Truecrypt itself is not the limitation here.


Yes, but everything I've read says flash drives should not be reformatted to NTFS; they're not made for that and it reduces their life and reliability significantly.

The filesystem on my computer is NTFS, but if I want to create an encrypted flash drive using TrueCrypt, I am stuck with FAT32 and 4 gigabyte Truecrypt volume limits. There are other ways to encrypt flash drives, though, which I'm looking into.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:38 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:33 pm
Posts: 250
Brad, 20 gigs of documents seems like a lot. Personally I keep my finical data separate from my other stuff (which amounts to very little).

But, if you need to backup that much data you have a few options:

A big flash drive.

Flash card with reader.

A properly backup system (like tapes).

Or, more realistically and cheaper (and my favorite for larger data) would be an external hard drive (or SSD!).

edit: Lastly, you could use a program like 7zip to split your data into "archives" that are sized to your flash drives. It works and is cheap; but honestly kind of a pain in the butt.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:07 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:35 pm
Posts: 425
Location: USA
We just broke down and purchased a new "clickfree" hard drive backup for $80. I'm sure there are probably cheaper options out there but I wanted something super easy breezy or I could imagine forgetting to do it, and something we could use when we get around to replacing our computer.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:03 am
Posts: 2
Location: Bloomington, IN
With a Macintosh (at least with the MacBook Pro) you can back up the entire drive on a regular (hourly) basis using Timemachine if you have an external drive. I bought a 1.5Tb external drive to back-up the 500Gb Mac. Stuff, e.g., photos, that is more difficult to replace I also have on another portable drive that is kept at a second location. Once Timemachine is set up it is automatic.

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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 9:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 7:48 pm
Posts: 120
Location: East Tennessee
I use Dropbox for mine. If you have smaller files you can use the free version. If you have a lot of stuff you can use their paid version.

It creates a folder on your computer and syncs it with an offsite storage. They use military grade encryption and use Amazon s3 to hold the information.

You can also use it on multiple computers if you need to access the same files from both a laptop and desktop.

If you are tech savvy you can create your own back up using Amazon s3 for pennies a month. Firefox s3 allows you to access it for free. It does require doing it manually though. Pretty decent upload speeds but very fast download speeds.

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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:36 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:29 pm
Posts: 1558
Location: Seattle, WA
TheWealthSquad wrote:
I use Dropbox for mine. If you have smaller files you can use the free version. If you have a lot of stuff you can use their paid version.

It creates a folder on your computer and syncs it with an offsite storage. They use military grade encryption and use Amazon s3 to hold the information.

You can also use it on multiple computers if you need to access the same files from both a laptop and desktop.

If you are tech savvy you can create your own back up using Amazon s3 for pennies a month. Firefox s3 allows you to access it for free. It does require doing it manually though. Pretty decent upload speeds but very fast download speeds.


Is there any s3-storing software out there for which they charge a simple one-time fee (like normal software)?


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:21 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:41 am
Posts: 3
An additional comment:
A friend had her house burn to the ground, taking absolutely everything but their pajamas with it. You would not believe the agony you have to go through to replace your documents when you have absolutely NOTHING remaining. No proof of identification whatsoever.

I got this idea from someone online after hurricane Katrina. Scan everything in your wallet, and also passports, a recent bank statement for all accounts, anything in your fire safe, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, all that stuff. Be sure to scan the BACK side of your credit card, that's where the 800 number is at in case it's stolen and you need to report it.

Store the scans on an ENCRYPTED file (I like TrueCrypt as well), and save it in a bunch of places. Put it on all your thumb drives, it's probably really small. If you use web mail, email it to yourself as an attachment so you can pull it up on a friend's computer, or even on a library computer (be REALLY careful here).

Obviously, this would be a goldmine for an identity thief, so be sure to use trustworthy encryption and a good password (I'd recommend NOT using the same one you use on other stuff) but this could save you tons of grief some day.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:02 pm
Posts: 6
I use another hard disc to backup my files, and then I do cloning. I don't know if it's the right thing to do but it works for me so far. I also have a virtual backup. I have an account in ZumoDrive. Are there any other virtual backups you recommend?


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 Post subject: Re: Computer Backup
PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5211
Dropbox! It is really a phone application but you can use it as a backup that also seemlessly shares across multiple computers


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