In which I pontificate about the importance of backups

In the past six months or so, a few events have made me realize that my home backup strategy plain stinks!

First, the fire alarm at my house went off... exactly once. It was a horrifically loud squelch, and I sprung out of bed and raced around the house to find the source of the alarm since there was no smoke, no heat and no ambient light. The backup batteries in the detectors probably needed replacing.

The alarm lasted only for a split second, but it was enough to scare me in thinking that if there had been a fire, I'm not sure I would have had the piece of mind (or time) to grab my DVD binders of movies, my iMac with all of my files on it, the external drive containing all of my music, or the subversion server in my basement with all of my downloaded applications and installation media.

Lucky for me... no fire, just panic... and really, my first thought should never be "grab my data!", but rather "grab my wife! and the cats!"

About two months later, a very sobering "data loss" happened. From middle school to when I graduated from Grad School, I've been archiving every document I wrote, work on every project I ever completed as well as any data from previous jobs I've held. I'm sure this is because I'm always wondering if I may at some point need "something". It could also be for the edification of my future offspring... or at least, it would have been.

I suddenly had this panicked feeling that I didn't know where my data were... so I started looking. And looking. And sure enough, they were totally gone. Ten years of work. Gone.

A moment of silence was had... then I started thinking - what I can do to prevent the sinking, terrible "your data are gone" feeling? The end result will be a a series of posts going through my analysis and implementation of the proper home backup strategy that I have implemented over the past months.

Incidently, I've since discovered that these data were actually not lost, but were so safely stored on my hard drive that even Spotlight had no idea where they were. I'll have to remember that ~/tmp is un-cataloged... which really, when you think about it, makes good sense.

Oct 10th, 2007