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When did you last back up your hard drive?

When did you last back up your hard drive? I'm feeling bad for a personal friend of mine today who wrote about his computer experience this morning,

i lost everything when my hard drive crashed. slowly but surely trying to get everything I lost. I don't think I am going to be able to affrod the data recovery, at least in the immediate future. I am getting quotes from 900-1900. lesson learned to back everything up.

Funny, I also received another email today from a webinar viewer asking about how I backup my photos. I don't often think of backing up my data because my backup software does it for me - automatically - and at the end of every day. I have the software set to backup any new or modified files at 11pm each night. Only once have I had to request a full restore of my hard drive, but occasionally I use its restore features to retrieve a file I have accidentally deleted or overwritten.

For the past couple of years I have used the Backblaze service (I happily used for a long time before they raised their rates). Backblaze is still just $5/month for unlimited storage space. As their website mentions, it's not a question of will you lose your data--it's when. Don't take a chance. Since most of us here at Millennia use Backblaze, we've now partnered with them. Here's the link for more information.

Backblaze is just one of many off-site backup services. Which do you use and why?


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Geoff--this leads me to another question. Does Backblaze backup the Legacy database each day too?? My son (who is a computer guru & earns his money at it) tells me that he doesn't think Mozy does unless I do a manual request for a total backup. I did have a computer crash once & a cousin was able to restore everything for me but I am concerned about my database, pics, documents, etc. ALL being backed up each day. Got any answers or suggestions?


I believe Mozy backs up certain files/folders by default, like the My Documents, My Pictures, etc. If you use it, and you want to back up other folders, like c:\Legacy\Data you just need to add it to the list of folders to be backed up. In Backblaze, I believe it's all done automatically. There are folders it automatically excludes so check those to ensure that everything is set how you would like. They don't backup your files every day unless there's been a change in the file, or if it's a new file. Hope this helps.

There are affordable hard drive data recovery tools like SpinRite ( that have a chance of recovering the hard drive without the high cost of professional data recovery.

Tell your friend to shop around some more. I too learned the hard way with a crash last year. A local TV reapair shop restored everything for $115. Watching the process I can truthfully say that even $900 is way too high.

The cost of recovery is dependent on the degree of recovery service required. In some cases it is necessary to physically remove the disc platter and read it. In this case $900+ is not out of line. If only the O/S crashes, and all that is required is to move the entire drive to another computer (as the TV shop probably did), then $115, or even less, is appropriate. Personally I have a Network Attached Storage (NAS) to automatically do backups, and also periodically backup to a external USB hard drive and take this off-site for the unthinkable eventuality our home should be destroyed. In addition to genealogy, we have some 44,000 photos taken over our lifetime.

Do not forget about an external hard drive for backup. Some will save more than just data. Shop for features.

Hope you get some kind of recognition from these guys. Exactly what I was looking for. Just subscribed.

Backing up to an External Dr. (and do it often)-- is quick and easy.

I use Symantec's Norton 360 Premiere Edition which allows online backups up to 25 GB's. I use this primarily for my data while I still do backups to DVD's at least on a weekly basis. Nobody should depend on hard drive's to last forever. Anyone who doesn't have a backup routine is taking a big chance and trusting their hard drive more than they should.

My main system drive died on me a couple of weeks ago, but because I use external drives for all my data I didn't lose anything there. I also use Norton Ghost to backup all my drives locally for extra protection. The Ghost backup of my system drive has saved me many times when things don't work right and I have to do a system restore.

I use JustCloud, it backs up once a day automatically. Any thoughts on JustCloud?

All good information here. A hard drive is a fragile and complex mechanical/electronic device, actually very ancient in computer design (in my early days in the field, the platters were larger than a pizza) It is not IF it will fail, but WHEN. SSD's are the wave of the future, albeit very rugged for drops, but still far from failsafe. Backup-Backup-Backup! There is no excuse when an external terrabyte drive costs less than $100.

Regarding cloud backups, they are a backup solution, but would still rather have my data on a physical drive offsite with a relative/friend. We have about 300GB of photos alone, and uploading/downloading this amount of data to/from the "cloud" would be prohibitive. If one is just worried about Legacy files, then cloud storage might be a good answer.

I use Mozy and an external hard drive. I keep current genealogy/Legacy files in Dropbox and on a flash drive. Paranoid?? Maybe, but I prefer to spend my backup $$s upfront when I can afford it, not later when I also need new hardware.

Does Backblaze backup folders such as this? example: My Pictures>Genealogy>Brown_family>Brown_orig>Brown_ed

I have a few folders similar to the above, and I'm in my 2nd year with Carbonite, I'd previously notice some not being backed up, I went to a similar type folder recently and found many that had not been backed up and they were not real recent changes.

Also, when I backup Legacy, those files are like the example above: C:Legacy>Data> zip files etc and I'm actually looking at that folder now, two Legacy backups were on 5-31-13, neither have been backed up by Carbonite.

Would Backblaze work better for me?

Syble - yes, it does backup folders that deep.

The problem with backing up to an external hard drive is that if something happens to your house or office, you may well lose both drives.
I have used for years. Not only does it backup all data continually, but if you get a new computer all you have to do is hit Restore on that computer and everything will be downloaded to it.
Note that Carbonite backs up data, not programs. Programs tend to be OS specific and to need to be installed, not just copied.

I use personal external hard drives, plus Dropbox and Carbonite. Backblaze sounds interesting. One possible caution: it's probably good to convert photos from JPEG to TIF to preserve the quality. (Geoff, you mention this in your book.) I found this out at work, where the quality deteriorated on originally high-MB photos that the IT dept. placed on offsite servers several years before. The loss was probably due to the servers' automatic multiple save cycles, a process which (I think) eventually tossed out so many pixels each time that it became evident (pixelly) after awhile. JPEG is "lossy"; TIF isn't.

If you convert all your photos to TIF won't you lose any info you put on them like captions?

I talked with the Backblaze representative at RootsTech 2013. My question was, where do you store my data and do you have a backup of my data? The answer given was that it's all stored at a center in Oakland, CA, and they are building a second center near Sacramento. However they did not plan to replicate my data at the second center. Since Oakland sits very near the San Andreas and Hayward faults, it's not farfetched to think of a disaster. Geoff, are you confortable entrusting your data to one site in an earth quake zone?

Clark - nope. I'm not comfortable having all my data backed up in one place. Using a variety of backup methods is the only safe method I believe.

I too lost data several years ago. Since that time, I have at least 3 different daily (WD Mybook), one weekely ( server with raid 6 volume), and an extra hard drive that I backup on a "toaster" USB bay that I keep in a drawer and update everyfew months. I'm still finding data that I know I had. Once you loose data (years of work), the expence of a backup seems insignificant.

I had been using an external hard drive to store all my Legacy files including pictures. This was not being backed up by Carbonite. But Carbonite told me that I could arrange to have ONE external drive backed up, so I transferred all my Legacy files to THAT external drive so that Carbonite will back it up. Incidently, I did lose another external drive - and it cost me $900 to have it restored. Wish I'd had that previous reference to see if it could have been restored more economically.

Re the comment that programs tend to be OS specific and need to be installed not copied does that mean if backing up to an external hard drive that programs need to be installed first?

I looked at the Backblaze site and I see that it automatically selects the files to be backed up. There appears to be no way to manually select directories, file types, or specific files to be backed up. The site mentions specifically that it does NOT backup the "application folder" which for Windows would be "Program Files." And this is where the Legacy data files are located.

Are you sure the Legacy files are being backed up? Have you ever tried to restore Legacy data files?

James - currently, Legacy defaults to save your data in the c:\Legacy\Data directory. In the future, it will default to the My Documents directory. You can manually turn on or exclude certain folders.

I back up my databases, backups and photos on the Cloud. I use Google's Cloud service (free for up to 5 GB, soon to go up to 15 GB) and SkyDrive. So I have up-to-date data in three different places, and can access them in the Cloud from anywhere.

I keep all my email exchanges in separate folders in Outlook Express. Is there a way to backup them in a manner that if Outlook Express is not available in the future it could be translated into a word processor?

Interesting question W. Bidewell. Anyone know? I've gone through all the email exchanges between my mother and I, copied/pasted into Word, and will publish a book for my Mom some day.

All my Legacy family trees have been uploaded to Rootsweb Worldconnect, so that I can copy them if ever needed.

Some years back I was visiting my cousin who worked for NASA-Houston. He took me and my friend on a tour of mission control and in the basement were between 6 and 12 main-frame computers they used for each space flight. Two cables each about 15" in diameter disappeared into the floor. I asked the Ops chief what they were for. He said the were connected to another duplicate group of computers in a building 2 miles away. If something happened during a mission to the main set, they could dump everything to the other building and be back up a running is a short time. Sort of an on-line off-line back-up system that makes our efforts look cheap. ;)

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