Back it up

 

I was just reminded of something. I go long periods and don’t think about it, but I shouldn’t, and neither should you. By “you” I mean absolutely everyone. Whatever you do — write, take pictures, or whatever — if you do it on a computer, back it up. I learned the hard way.

ILOVEYOU (aka Love Letter), was a computer worm that attacked tens of millions of PCs on and shortly after May 5, 2000. It showed up as an email message with the subject “ILOVEYOU” and an attachment: “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs“. The  ‘VBS‘ file extension was typically hidden by default on PCs back then. It wasn’t on my computer, but I worked on a development team on my own computer at home — an early telecommuter — so it wasn’t unusual for me to get files full of code as part of my job.

It took a mere few seconds to destroy every single jpeg file on my computer. That represented all of the photographs I had ever taken that I was storing on my hard drive, more than a decade of family and artistic pictures. It only took a few hours for a fix to be created and distributed, but it was too late for me.

I had been backing up to CDs, but I hadn’t backed up my photos, only financial records and my writing because that was work-related.

I lost hundreds, maybe thousands, of photographs.

External hard drives existed, but they were uncommon and expensive — very expensive. Now, there’s no excuse. You can get a huge external hard drive for short money. I back up intermittently to my two external drives, but a make sure to move files between my laptop and my big desktop everyday, and I save things online too

Eventually, I have 3 or 4 copies of everything, not counting whatever I store online. I don’t feel it’s too much. You can’t have too many backups of things that are important.

Even if it doesn’t seem very important. it can suddenly become very important if you have lost it forever and can never replace it. Back everything up. If it’s important enough to save it on your hard drive, it’s important enough to back up.

You can, for example, get a 3 TB external Seagate drive from Amazon for $139 including shipping. One and two terabyte drives are less expensive. If you don’t like that, there are ample choices for every budget. Don’t make excuses. One day, something bad will happen. A hard drive dies on you. It happens. It has happened to me twice. The first time, it was a secondary hard drive and I got enough warning to get my stuff off the drive. The second time, a message in a black  message box — I’ve never seen one like that before or since — appeared on my screen saying that there was a problem with my hard drive, back up now. By the time I finished reading the message, everything was gone.

But that time, everything was backed up. It was an inconvenience, not a catastrophe. I had learned my lesson.

Skip learning the hard way. Back it up.

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6 comments

  1. And here I am, doing yet another backup. I think I should reconsider my back up options. I need a process that is automatic. Expecting myself, at the end of the day, to remember what files I changed or added so I know what to back up is dangerous and way too optimistic. I can’t remember if I ate lunch, much less every picture I reedited!

  2. Been there! Luckily the last time the files were retrievable but the computer was trash! You just reminded me it is time for BACK UP!

  3. Sadly, I too have lost many photographic files due to viruses. Fortunately, after being bitten a few times, I enlist the service of an online store site, SmugMug, that has multiple servers in multiple locations. It’s a commercial site but for around $50 a year you can save an unlimited number of files up to 50 Meg each, in JPG format. I wish I had the money to afford their extended service that stores RAW files, the true negatives of digital photography.

    I try to convince forum dwellers to backup their valuables this way instead of buying huge hard drives at home. All it takes is one fire, one thief, to ruin the best laid plans of men & mice. :)

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