Backing Bad - Recovering Mistakes of the Past
Updated: Feb 10
Most people have been there before. You lose some critical piece of data - maybe a research paper, family photos, or a home movie, and you scour the earth trying to recover it. You devote every bit of bandwidth you’ve got to salvaging a file or two, but not even a single byte comes through.
You ask your friends for help and they answer you with the dumbest question you’ve ever heard, and you’ve already been asked the same thing three times that day.
“Well did you backup your data?”
“No, I didn’t backup my data” you’ll seethingly reply. “Don’t you think I’d be able to find my data if I backed it up?!”
From that day forward, you make good on your promise to always copy your data, and you never talk to that annoying friend again.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough that you backup. It’s equally, if not more important what you backup.
Recovering system images is one of the most common ways to get a failing computer running again. Apple users call it “Time Machine,” Windows folk call it “System Restore.”
Most people only consider the quality of those backups when their computer is already in a tailspin. At that point, it may already be too late.
Systems usually don’t fail on flukes. The first crack may have happened weeks or even months ago, and it may not even be noticeable. Over time, that crack continues to grow until all of a sudden you have a fracture. That’s when you know something is up and you start weighing the cost / benefit of living with the annoying bugs or throwing in the towel and restoring your system to a previous state. If you didn't run a backup before that first crack in your system occurred, it’s going to be there when you call it back, and before long, you’ll be limping around with a broken bone again.
It’s understandable how we can be lulled into not making and saving a backup when the times are good. The better your machine runs, the less you think about it. That’s the whole point of efficient computing, so we’re less likely to image our hard drives or run a backup when everything is humming along.
Even if you do have the presence of mind to run a sunny day backup, you still may not be safe.
As hard drives reach their storage capacity, or the designated amount of space for storing backups, by default, most operating systems will automatically delete the oldest backups first. So if your good times were a few too many backups ago, or you didn't allot enough space for restore points, you’ll be out of luck.
It’s also important to note that not all cloud backup services support .iso files, virtual hard disks, and other forms of backups. Be sure to check before you count on your cloud solution.
Savor those happy times when you love the way your computer is running. Bottle up that good feeling and image your system before the next storm comes in. Save it in the cloud with a reputable, paid service and keep your data synced on more than one local device too. Even on your darkest digital day, you’ll be able to pull out that happy memory, and before you know it, the sun will shine again.