Laptop hard drives are extremely delicate and often fail. It is not uncommon that laptops are lost to theft. There are 2 basic strategies for backing up your laptop:
- Ad Hoc: Copy those files and folders which are of greatest value to CD, DVD, Flash, hard drive or similar. Apart from flash drives failing almost as frequently as laptop hard drives, and the ensuing chaos of backup files spread across different media, and having to trust oneself to make the copies with any meaningful frequency, it is not a bad backup strategy.
- Automated Backup Software: This should be as mindless and invisible and robust as one can afford.
Should one choose this un-recommended route, we wish you godspeed. At the minimum:
- Do not use flash drives for backups
- Keep the backups apart from your laptop (so that if laptop lost in fire or stolen, the backups aren't lost with it)
- Backup regularly
- If copying files to hard drive, do not overwrite the previous backup. Keep multiple generations of backups
This is the preferred and recommended route, though some options will cost you money. There are two basic types: those that run incremental** backups to local media (such as optical drives or hard drives), and those which run incremental backups to network volumes. An example of the former is Apple's free 'Time Machine' backup software which comes with OS X 10.5 and above. The latter is offered by a number of companies, including MIT. In either case, the automated system should be mind numbingly easy to setup, run and restore from. If not, it won't get used.
- This is the best way to backup large multimedia collections such as pictures, movies and music.
- Macintosh: Time Machine is hands down your best option. It is trivial to setup, it runs transparently in the background and it easy to restore from. All you need is an external hard drive (which you should keep apart from your laptop in case of fire, theft, etc).
- Windows: There are many from which to choose. We've had some success with Ghost, and CrashPlan (mentioned below) has a local hardisk option.
Network (Off-site) Backups
- MIT's CrashPlan backup service: http://ist.mit.edu/crashplan (free up to 4 computers).
NOTE! Macintosh users must use the cron-modified installer found here.
Of all these options, we recommend MIT CrashPlan. It has the benefits of off-site, works on all popular operating systems, is very reasonably priced (FREE!), and 'it just works.' Note that you'll need to disconnect your computer(s) from the service when you leave MIT—see the 'Leaving' tab above.
**Incremental backups backup only those files which have changed. A history is kept of each file over time.
• 2017-01-20 18:15:28 •