So, it’s been 48 hours since my left arm got cut off. By which I mean, my computer died. (It ‘s an extreme analogy, but it really does feel like I’ve lost a limb.)
It’d take more time than I care to spend to explain how much of my life is contained in my computer. All my work on Storm Knights, going back to 1999, all my work on Infinity, all the movies I painstakingly made from my DVD collection, the 60 GB of thoroughly tagged MP4 songs I made from my CD’s…
It’s literally tens of thousands of hours of work. All at the mercy of some silicon, glass, plastic, and metal.
I hate that.
Here’s my theory of data: this universe hates you. It hates your data, and wants to destroy it. It will lie in wait until you give it half a chance, then pounce and destroy every single bit of 10,000 hours of work.
(This is true, by the way. It’s called “The Second Law of Thermodynamics“.)
So, I backup. Religiously. OS X Mountain Lion saves every single revision of (nearly) every document, in the document file itself, so I can go back in time and see everything I’ve added, changed, or deleted, and recover it, if necessary. (Which it has been, at least once.) That’s not all.
Time Machine makes hourly backups to a P.O.S. NAS I mistakenly bought. Plus every night, a script I set up copies my essential files — Infinity, Storm Knights, and some stories I’m working on — to Dropbox, to be stored in a Data Center somewhere. Then once a year or so I backup all those files to CD (lately, DVD). And just this year I backed up all my CD and DVD backups to a h-u-u-u-g-e SD card.
Is this necessary? You bet your sweet ass.
Just this year, I found out that all my notes from my 2002-2004 “Mythepolis” D&D campaign had vanished. The folders were there, but each and every file was just fsck-ing gone.
Hundreds of hours of work. Gone. Knee to the groin time.
Fortunately, back in 2004, after the campaign wrapped, I’d included that folder in one of my Torg burns, basically on a whim, and so it was on the SD card.
Yeah. “There but for the grace of God…”
Motto of the story, kids: if you work in digital, and your work is at all valuable to you, back up. Often.
If you don’t, some day your data will decide to vanish, for no readily identifiable reason, and you will be stuck. With a good backup plan, even if your left arm is cut off, you can recover from the disaster.
Minimum basic plan:
- External HDD for regularly scheduled backups, no less than once a day.
- CD or DVD for yearly backups.
- Some kind of Cloud storage solution for persistent, offsite, “three nines” storage.
(Disaster Update: just got the FireWire 800 cord, which will let me backup everything from my computer’s internal HDD’s. Yes, even with the above paranoid backup plan, some things fell through the cracks. See what I mean about this universe hating your data?)