Monday, January 6, 2014

Planning For a Disaster

There are natural disasters occurring around the globe all the time.  Just last year there were floods in Colorado, fires in California, a mega typhoon in the Philippines and 760 confirmed tornadoes in the US.   These events can wipe away in an instant what we have worked for years to build.  Many times people are able to prepare and there is not a great loss of life, but that's not always true about property.

Recently a family in our neighborhood lost their home to a house fire that from the outside appears to have consumed pretty much everything in their home.   The good news is they all go out safely.  This is the fifth home to burn in our little neighborhood since we moved in about 32 years ago.

Mt. Cammerer Firetower
This house fire got me thinking.  What if that happened to us?  Most of our material possessions would be replaced by insurance but somethings can not be replaced.   There are some steps that can be taken to prepare for a house fire and avoid people being injured, however there is not much we can do to protect things in our home, particularly those things we use and don't want locked up somewhere.    I also got to thinking about the tens of thousands of photos I have on my home computer.

Right now I have 3.4 terabytes of system and data disks, plus  3.2 terabytes of backup disks.  Every night my system makes backup copies of my files.  When (not if) I have a hard drive crash I can buy a new one and put all my files back.  Because all these disks are in the same physical place a house fire or a waterline break in the kitchen above my computer could destroy the original files and all the backups.  All gone.

I decided to find a way to save my photos should a disaster occur at home.  I checked out out a couple online backup services to backup my files to "the cloud" on the internet.  In theory, if my PC is destroyed I can eventually replace it and restore all my important files to the new computer. I loaded a 30 day evaluation copy of one of the leading services and found it was going to take a month to back up what I had on my hard drives! With the number of images I load to my PC after a big trip this system could take days to catch up.

I have decided to give up on the cloud backup until my internet service provider offers better upload speeds.  Instead I purchased a portable hard drive that can be attached to my PC via a USB 3.0 port.  I then back up my pictures, documents, music and other important files to this disk and store it in my office at work.   A low tech but low cost solution.   The key is to be disciplined to bring the disk home periodically and make a new backup.

I'm going to keep doing my backups on my computer in addition to the offsite backup.   Nothing wrong with doing both.

What do you do to protect your important files?

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