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You backup all the time, right?

Backups have always been a thing with computers, but data has been getting progressively larger over time, and for those of us doing digital media, it has gotten intensely large. Backups are a constant issue for me and when I read this article over at CDM, it made me think about it again.

Create Digital Motion ยป Protect Your Work, Movage Your Storage, and Stop Using DVDs for Archiving and Backups

There are some good suggestions there. I’ll summarize and add my own.

1. use multiple media when possible. I had a week-long studio session costing thousands of dollars. We had archived it to a hard drive which I had backed up to TWO sets of DVDs. I kept one set of the DVDs and I gave the other set to a band member. A year later, most of the data in both sets of the DVDs was unreadable. (I had verified all of the DVDs on a separate computer before putting them away). Luckily, I hadn’t needed the hard drive for anything else and I was able to back it up to another hard drive so that the session wasn’t lost completely. Now, for anything critical, I will archive to hard drive and DVD, and I will keep the tape as well whenever possible.

2. make multiple backups. I have some stuff that is the most important to me: Digital Family Photos and movies; personal records; business records; my media library (this is important because it took me 6 months to rip all my DVDs). All of these are backed up to multiple locations. The photos are backed up to a separate drive in my computer every night along with the (smaller) files. I have two full machine backup drives which I alternate between so that I always have at least two backups of my machine. I am investigating creating on-line backups of all the impossible to replace data as a third backup.

3. keep the data moving. Hard drive seize, DVDs get oxidized, web hosts go out of business. This one I got from CDM. Hard drives keep getting cheaper. This means that you can periodically buy a couple new drives and archive all the old data from the older smaller drives. This reduces the chance of a drive failure due to age and keeps the bits moving forward. Personally, I’ll also point out that it makes it less likely that you’ll end up with your data on a drive with an incompatible format or adapter (SCSI anyone?)

4. store your backups in multiple locations. I keep one set of backups at home and one set at work. Sure, it is a pain to have to bring drives back and forth, but it makes me feel a bit more secure that if the worst happens at home that I’ll still have my most important digital assets.

5. back up often. duh.

I’d love to hear any other suggestions. Especially around archiving large video projects…

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