Tuesday, November 3

Linux Deleted My Work!!

Ok, so the title is a shameless attention grabber. Linux is not alive, even though there are some who believe Linus Torvalds is trying to create AI life. We probably many reasons we speak anthropomorphically about our computers, but a main one is to cover the fact that WE screwed something up. Either by failure to recognize a problem, failure to understand, or simple brain failure, it is nearly always human error when something goes wrong on a computer... at least if you are running a real operating system. If you are running Windows then it's 100% possible that it's the computer's fault. ;)

The real title of this post should be something more like "Why you need a backup system" or, "How I idiotically failed to back up my files before wiping my hard drive while installing the new version of Ubuntu"... but had I done so you probably wouldn't be reading this right now. The fact is, I know better. I've been an IT professional for nearly 10 years now. I crossed the line from casual user to computer nerd before I hit puberty. These are not mistakes people like me are supposed to make. However, sure enough, last night I was confused by the fact that I couldn't find some work I was looking for when I had one of those moments of complete clarity. I was watching TV, carrying on a conversation about Windows 7, and selecting files to back up off my hard drive before my eagerly anticipated upgrade to Ubuntu 9.10. I remember specifically looking at a directory(poorly named "sandbox" ... first mistake) while thinking to myself, "I don't need that." I was wrong.

The problem was not the operating system, it wasn't a problem with backup software or anything else. It was a problem between keyboard and chair ... an ID-10-T error ... I was my own UserException. The truly unfortunate coincidence is, I have been putting off building a backup system because I said to myself, "It's not that important."

It is important. I was able to recover my mistake in about 3 hours, but there are some things we store on our computers that can never be recovered. Sound overly dramatic? Consider what would happen if your house burned to the ground. What would you lose? Financial statements, bank records, even credit card receipts are all recoverable somewhere. What about the pictures of your kids... your grandkids... your honeymoon or wedding? Those are moments in time that you can never recreate, and if they are gone, they are just gone. Hard copies are not necessarily a fool-proof backup. Physical media has the same problem. Even in a fire safe, it is unlikely a CD or DVD will survive the type of heat you would have in a fire that burns your house to the ground.

As more and more of our lives go on our computers, appropriate measures should be taken to ensure the safety of our data... and the more important your data is to you, the more you should consider backups as one of the most important things you can add to your home computing environment.

This blog is mainly about problems in technology and how to handle them. Over the next few weeks I plan to write about the steps I am taking to preserve my data. I am planning to write on the following topics:

1. Disk is cheap - Backup methods and retention period
2. Some things change, some things stay the same - Selection of backup method based upon media type
3. Fire, EMP, Gamma ray burst, Rapture - Protecting backups
4. The way it should be done - My system

In case you couldn't tell, most of the titles are slightly tongue-in-cheek, I am not arrogant enough to believe that I have all the answers to this problem. My point is, do something and get moving. You never know when something bad is going to happen and you'll wish you had given this a higher priority.

No comments: