I’ve been thinking about backup lately. I’ve been managing with a manual backup process that I seldom do. For myself I need an automated program. Fortunately I haven’t had any big disasters so far. However that’s no guarantee for tomorrow. Read on for my needs and solutions.
I’m a software developer. I write some of my own software and write software for others on a contract basis. I need to keep backups of my work, both historical and ongoing. I also have invoices and receipts that I don’t want to lose, as well as my correspondence. Like everyone, I have personal email, photos, videos, ebooks (both fiction, marketing, software etc), software applications etc that I don’t want to lose. At various times I’ve made lists and links to software I use, however I never manage to keep track of them. I also have sensitive information I definitely don’t want anyone else seeing (bank account info etc). I have my own domain and a couple of web-hosting accounts. So I want to be sure I don’t lose that information.
As a software developer I use SubVersion as a Source Code Control system. I originally used just a local file system repository. I could have setup a file based backup for this, however I never did get anything setup. Now I’m collaborating with two other developers and so I’ve moved my source code repository to my webhost (Site5, which I’d recommend) which I access using an SSH link using a private key access unique to each developer. That’s working well so far. I’m also relying on the Site5 backup. I’m going to be adding in the open source package Unison File Synchronizer to keep that repository synchronized with either a desktop backup or with my laptop. I might also check out the Subversion repository mirror facility. I do plan on using Unison to keep the website backed up (less the databases. More on that strategy later). I’ve been using the free version of Mozy for online backup for my laptop. (My Referrer code is 7G2K76, I get a little extra space if you give me credit for referring you) This is pretty good with 2 GByte of free backup. I’ve got my essential files backed up there. Some of them at least. The paid version seems well worth the $5/month it costs. What I backup at the moment is my current development directory as well as my documents and invoices. I’m close to the 2Gig limit. Expect that I might signup for the Home version. I’m also going to try using the Unison File Synchronizer” to keep a local copy of the website on my laptop. I’m rethinking this option as it must be installed on both the server and the desktop, and that is looking like too much work to setup. I’m checking out FTP synchronization software to see if that might be an option. Finally, I think the most important part of the strategy is using an external USB hard-drive (easy and inexpensive, I have a Trek 250gig portable and a Lacie 500gig usb desktop drive) to keep an image of my hard drive. This will insulate me from the potential hard drive failure, handle issues where I might lose my laptop (theft) or have to take it in for repair. My wife had her laptop in for repair and the tech kindly reformatted the hard drive. We had made copies of the essential files, however it took additional effort to reinstall everything, and of course we missed a few things. I’ve checked out a few open source applications, however I’m a bit concerned with the problems that some people have had with them and the apparent lack of responsiveness. I’ll do some more checking, however I’ve chosen the Acronis True Image Home 11 image and backup package. It’s a great deal at $49.95 and will be useful for migrating from computer to computer as well. You can also try out the Acronis True Image 11 Home Trial Download to see if this strategy works for you. The other part of my strategy is to use online apps. I use gmail for email. Love it. I use google docs to keep important word documents and spreadsheets and for collaboration. Finally I have a wiki at wikidot.com.
11 May 2008