Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Backup, backup, backup

This is a community service announcement to EVERYONE out there who isn’t backing up their technology. Why I am going over something as basic as backup? Again? Because I have again been called into assist recover someone’s machine that wouldn’t boot (even though I haven’t worked with hardware for years). Of course, no backups where available and “everything” on the machine was vital!
In most cases it would probably be easier to walk away from these types of jobs but sometimes relationships overwrite logic. Of course the machine in question came with no further information to assist in the troubleshooting process. Which version of Windows did it run? (Vista Home Premium as it turned out), where is the data that needs to recovered? (on the desktop as it turned out) and so on.
What most non IT people fail to realize is that recovering from these situations is not straight forward and can take a lot of time. In this case, I took a backup image of the machine before commencing work. I then had to troubleshoot non booting issues. Then I had to locate and create suitable Windows boot DVDs to allow recovery. Finally I had to repair the problem so the system could boot. I also had to locate the gigabytes and gigabytes of ‘important’ information and copy it onto an external USB disk, just in case the laptop had further problems during its return transit.
All in all I probably spent about 8+ hours in total recovering the laptop and backing up the information. The user was very pleased about get their information back and they have been sternly warned that this is the one and only time they get a free pass on this. Their question to me is ‘how do I backup?’ and you know what I don’t know how best to answer that.
I appreciate that there are myriad of ways to backup but if I am being asked about ‘how to backup’ is there any real chance that a user is going to be able to install and configure something successfully? Probably not. So the best bet is either probably just to copy the desired files to a USB disk (which I suggested here) or install some sort of cloud based backup service. But again here the choice becomes complex for users. Which one? How much does it cost? How can I get my data back? See what I mean?
So yes backup is critical for any digital system but you know what? If you don’t know how to backup yourself then you need to find someone to help. This is not unlike taking your car to a mechanic, unfortunately I don’t think technology has gotten any simpler for most people even when it comes to something as essential as backup.