The Backup Strategy

They say you have to back up. Back up your data or you’ll regret it. Well, now I’m pretty aware of why you need the backups, because of two recent events. In the first, the backups worked; the second, they didn’t.

In the first case, (the one that worked), my wife and I had to transition our iPhoto library. We had about 15,000 files on our underpowered iMac. Various online sources say may be too many, and we were seeing that our iPhoto was running very slowly. So we elected to split the library into multiple yearly libraries. To facilitate this split, we used iPhoto Library Manager to do the split. Fortunately, before I did the split, I backed up our photos to seven or so DVDs.

And it was a good thing that I did, because when we exported the photos from the main library to the yearly libraries, it failed to export the video clips that were stored. Instead it exported the thumbnail photos that represented the video clips.

I don’t think this is a problem with iPhoto Manager, as the internet lists the same problem with iPhoto itself. I suspect it’s an error in the iPhoto APIs that iPhoto Manager uses.

Fortunately, we had the videoclips stored on the DVDs and could recover them. My wife and I would have been extremely angry if we had lost all the video clips of our son from age zero to three, including him walking and talking for the first time.

The second case was one of me being dumb. I had moved personal files off my work machine onto my laptop, and I had also synchronized that to the home Linux server that I’m in the process of setting up. I then had a brain freeze, and thought that all the files on the iMac were synchronized too. I ended up deleting six years worth of GnuCash data files.

I had been backing up the iMac to an external drive using Retrospect Express. And I didn’t have it on a schedule, so it became a manual process that I would forget to do, and ended up pretty much stopping back in September. I can say good things about Retrospect; I managed to restore the files quite easily. Unfortunately, due to my own laziness, those restore files are three months out of date. But it does provide me a good opportunity to revamp my GnuCash file structure.

Scott Hanselman details what his backup strategy is, and it got me to thinking that I need a better home back up strategy. Probably three way sync between the iMac, the Linux box and my laptop. I’ll be investigating soon.

Updated: fixed typos.