Help With Your Resolutions

I hate to nag but I know there is something you should all be adding to your New Year’s resolution list that you probably haven’t thought about. It’s boring. It’s irritating. And it just doesn’t seem that important. But you know you should do it: Back up your data.

For years, I just didn’t do it. Then one day, a few years back, the hard drive on my desktop died a loud, sudden, and spectacular death. I lost so much of my own work in that tragic event that I cried. I couldn’t face work — except to admit my foolishness and beg deadline extensions from my editors — for days. My heart was broken. I lost articles in progress, notes on fiction, an almost complete work of fiction, emails, and photographs – lots of photographs. My hard drive never recovered and I never got back most of that work. But I am resilient. I did recover. And I learned a hard lesson. It was a bad experience that I could have easily avoided it. So now I avoid it.

I know I’m not the only one who has carried on blithely as if hard drive failures only ever happen to other people. A while back, Kym posted a comment here saying that she had lost a year’s worth of pictures of her kids’ in a tragic hard drive accident. She will never be able to remember what they looked like when they were 7 and 9. Everyone I know has a similar story. The fact is, hard drives die. Eventually, they all die. In fact, they are guaranteed to die. They are just fallible bits of magnetic storage.

The data on them though is important stuff, though. So don’t lose it. Here’s what you do: Automate the process. I use an online backup site It waits for me to stop using my computer and backs up everything I’ve written or edited or added since the last time it backed up. It does this every day. I don’t even think about it. Mozy offers a free trial that might serve if your storage needs are simple. I pay $4.95 a month for unlimited backup.

And Now for the Giveaway

But an online backup service is only good if you can get online. This is a good thing if your house burns down but an irritant if your Internet connection goes down. So doing a local backup is also good. And I happen to have a giveaway that will help with that. I have an automatic backup tool called ClickFree. All you do is pop the DVD into your drive and it automatically backs up all your data files. It even goes and finds your emails (those are often hard to locate) and backs those up too. They make DVDs that automatically back up photos and other types of data, too. And they make an external hard drive that backs up all the data (not the software installations) on your hard drive.

Today, though, I have two 5-DVD packs that back up your office files. (I have a lot of these to give away thanks to Ruth, though, so I will be doing more of these giveaways coming up.) All you have to do to win one of these 5-pack Office DVD packs is post a comment below. Tell me your own data-loss heartbreak or at least how you are making data backup one of your New Year’s resolutions.


Note: This contest is closed. Congratulations Susan and Judy!

In other news

Last week, I forgot to say that Kary, Michelle, and Jenny each won a copy of my book, How to be a Geek Goddess. (If you didn’t win, I see there are a couple of other giveaways for my book out in the blogosphere right now. There is one at Wise Bread and another at Oh, Hey, What’s Up?) Melissa won the flying Tinker Bell. Thanks for playing!


9 thoughts on “Help With Your Resolutions

  1. I should have said how much I love my 120GB Clickfree hard drive. You are right! I’ll cover it when I announce a winner.

    I actually rolled my eyes and said, “Right!” about all those claims of ease of use when they sent it to me because I have hated every other drive like this that I have ever tried. But this one does just work.

  2. I’m a guy. Sorry about that, but it isn’t my fault. Regarding backup, you might want to mention the actual Clickfree hard drive device. Go shopping on Amazon and QVC and you can find prices all over the map — best I saw was 60 bucks for the 120GB unit — more than enough for most of us. Not long ago QVC had a special on the 260G unit for about 150. My sister bought one from watching QVC and called to ask me my opinion.

    Not surprisingly, Mister Do-It-The-Hard-Way Guy Geek said “Most of that ‘one-touch,’ ‘you don’t have to think about it’ stuff is hokum and doesn’t work like it is supposed to.” Boy, was I wrong! After putting this thing (and four others that I have now bought or caused friends to buy) through its paces, I’m a convert! Really, just plug it in, and off it goes. The first trip through your computer (one of mine has three hard drives) is slow, but subsequent backups are incremental and much faster. Advantage: It doesn’t erase or overwrite old files that you no longer have on your PC, so it might hold that file you accidentally erased. Will work with up to 10 different computers, differentiating them by network name.

    I have done trial restores, and it brings back everything you could possible want, along of course with some stuff that you don’t need. The restored files go to a dedicated folder on the hard drive of your choice, so the user, a geek friend, or a computer service would have to put them back where they belong. It does not, of course, restore the OS or any program files.

    My sister now has two of them. Restores to one of them and puts it in the safe-deposit box, then updates the second one and swaps.

    Not really cheap, but at somewhere around 10% of the cost of a good laptop, a great choice for peace of mind. You might want to consider getting one of these for yourself to examine, and then put the results out for your readers. It just might marginally reduce some of the heartache in the world.


  3. Here’s my data-loss sob story, and why I really really really need the backup help. About ten years ago, I was editing a HUGE section of a book about jazz (reviews of artists and recordings). In book form, it was about 1500 pages; I edited about one-third of it. The work was somewhat tedious. Along with the editing, I had to format a lot of files. And there were hundreds of files. I don’t remember the app that was used, but it was clunky and old. What the managing editor neglected to tell me was that there were doc files PLUS each doc file had buddies–files with the same name and all sorts of weird extensions. He told me to simply work on the doc files so I figured that those were the files to use and, after I finished editing it all (it took me about three weeks) I sent him those files only, saving the rest to my hard drive. I didn’t hear anything from the editor for about a week except that he got it and all looked good. I figured that was that. Because the job sucked up most of my hard-drive space, I kept the doc files for the job and deleted all the others. The next day, the editor called and said it looked great but he was missing all the associated files, and asked me to please send them. I panicked! I didn’t have them, of course. I drove at 90 mph to a drive-saving place that was supposed to be able to find any file that ever existed on planet earth–but, of course, they couldn’t find those wacko extension files. Finally, I had to bite the freelance bullet and explain to the editor what had happened. We both copped to our parts of the fiasco and I ended up doing the whole job again; he actually paid me what he owed me for the first job plus about $200 pity money. Now I back up important work and keep hard copies of it, but I still don’t have a quick method to back up ALL my work. This product would absolutely do the trick.

  4. I just discovered this website, and I am just now diving into the wealth of useful information I am finding here! I am so excited to have found Geek Girlfriends!

    I have never backed up my data. I really don’t have anything vital on my computer (my handy-dandy notebook computer) so it wouldn’t be earthshaking if I did happen to lose my stuff. I own disks of all of my programs (Office 2003, etc.). However, a few days ago I was thinking how I really should start backing up some things (like email, etc). I am hoping to give it a go in 2009. Maybe I will win a set of your DVD’s and that will further stir me into being a responsible computer person. 🙂


  5. I have a sad story about data loss. I lost about 2 years of pictures because I was moving files to an external hard drive (key word — moving, not copying), and then dropped the hard drive.

    I DO need to incorporate more regular back up into my 2009 plans.

  6. Hi Judy! Welcome!

    Isn’t that sad about **Sniff** I loved her.

    But like a lot of things, this problem has actually turned into an opportunity. I have been trying a lot of things. I currently like I used it before I found Sandy and when she quit, I went back to it. And then something led me to download the trial of Outlook 07 (I have hated Outlook in the past but this version works with Google calendar and lots of other Web services). And since there is a groovy little sync tool for Toddledo and Outlook, now when I send tasks (via email from my Sidekick phone) my tasks show up in my to-do list in Outlook. That’s pretty sweet. is pretty good too.

    I’ll do a full-blown post on this soon.

  7. BTW I noticed in your Family Circle article you mentioned – your digital assistant. But when I went to sign up, I found that they just sold to twitter! Do you have a replacement yet?

  8. finally, I found a fellow woman geek! Where are all of us geeky types?? I’m soooo glad you talk about simple ways to backup files. I recently had my laptop crash, but I had 90% on my external hard drive. I had a great techie guy who saved the rest of my files, but I did lose all my bookmarks. Lots of lost hours of research! So yes, sign me up for my local backup! Thanks!

  9. My computer crashed a few months ago, I spent $150 getting it running and getting my files back. If I had had it backed up, the fix would have cost me $30. As a broke college student, that’s a lot of money, plus I would have gotten my computer back a lot faster, which had homework assignments, newspaper articles, research papers, etc. Still, I have yet to back up my files and every time my computer screen twitches my chest tightens up because I’m sure that it’s crashing again! So please, PLEASE enter me in your giveaway! If I win, stress will be taking fewer years off my life!

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