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Cipro

We have quite a number of folks here who create original works of various types, from articles to websites to software, and sometimes we hear that things "get lost", so I thought "hey, I know a lot about not losing digital stuff, maybe I should start a thread"; here it is.

 

There are many ways to lose digital things, here are a few of the more popular techniques:

 

  • Physical loss: Always popular, works in the real world too. Either you stored your stuff on a service you didn't own, or the PC was stolen, or the house burned, or whatever. In short the data is fine and intact somewhere last you used it but you can't get to it anymore because you lost or never had physical control of the media. This also carries with it the fun possibility of someone ELSE now having your data.
  • Accidental overwrite or erasure: You have the media but due to some accident the data is gone. You saved a file with the same name, or you edited it, and saved, and now realize you want the old version back. Someone else erased it accidentally on a shared computer. In any case the media is still in your control, but the computer did exactly what someone asked and while it's functioning perfectly, the request was a mistake.
  • Hardware failure: The disk crashed, or has bad sectors, or whatever. A storage malfunction has lost your data.

 

 

 

Please add to the list and then we will discuss solutions.

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Hackers get into your files and you open your computer to find, "Surprise!" nothing.

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afmayer

We have quite a number of folks here who create original works of various types, from articles to websites to software, and sometimes we hear that things "get lost", so I thought "hey, I know a lot about not losing digital stuff, maybe I should start a thread"; here it is.

 

There are many ways to lose digital things, here are a few of the more popular techniques:

  • Physical loss: Always popular, works in the real world too. Either you stored your stuff on a service you didn't own, or the PC was stolen, or the house burned, or whatever. In short the data is fine and intact somewhere last you used it but you can't get to it anymore because you lost or never had physical control of the media. This also carries with it the fun possibility of someone ELSE now having your data.
  • Accidental overwrite or erasure: You have the media but due to some accident the data is gone. You saved a file with the same name, or you edited it, and saved, and now realize you want the old version back. Someone else erased it accidentally on a shared computer. In any case the media is still in your control, but the computer did exactly what someone asked and while it's functioning perfectly, the request was a mistake.
  • Hardware failure: The disk crashed, or has bad sectors, or whatever. A storage malfunction has lost your data.

 

 

Please add to the list and then we will discuss solutions.

 

 

 

How about "My dog ate it"?

 

To be serious, the only other case I can think of is when you would spend hours creating a document in Word (let's say), a power loss occurs and you lose your hours of effort because you forgot to do incremental saves (or have Word do it automatically for you).

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KennyF

Most backup software allows you to keep x copies of the files you ask it to backup.

I use a freeware system called Cobian Backup.

For my programming folders I keep 20 copies so today, the 11th, i can go get my files as they were on the 10th, 9th etc right on back to 20 days ago.

For my documents I keep just 4 copies.

For photos just 2 copies.

Once Cobian backs up the selected amount of times , it then deletes the oldest before backing up again so you always have the latest files.

All of my files are backed up to a folder on a second drive (D:backup)

This happens at 12 noon each day, then at 12:10 Cobian backs up that D:backup to C:Backup

Each week I ghost my C: drive to a folder on D: and my D: drive to a folder on C:

For this I use Macrium Reflect, another freeware program.

So, I'm protected from my own accidental delete or overwrites and from catastrophic drive failure.

Drives are so cheap these days that there is no excuse for not having a backup drive.

My two drives are identical 1TB drives. Cost, about $150 each.

 

Some things I've learned to watch out for.

Don't buy drives bigger than 1TB, there are constant problems with 1.5 and 2 TB drives which defeats the purpose.

Don't use an external drive unless you really must. External drives fail at a way faster rate than internals.

If you back up to CD or DVD, put them straight into a paper sleeve and store them where they don't get moved.

Make sure you keep a backup off site. If you work in an office, take a backup home. If you work at home, keep one at your inlaws.

 

KonGC

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Alan S

Over the years (I had my first computer in 1980-81) I have lost masses of stuff.

 

I now keep paper copies of the really important,, keep 2 (or more) copies of all files, one in an external drive, one in the D drive ('cos the C drive fails more often as it is used more by windows etc), and often one copy on a CD as well.

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Woolf

Most backup software allows you to keep x copies of the files you ask it to backup.

I use a freeware system called Cobian Backup.

For my programming folders I keep 20 copies so today, the 11th, i can go get my files as they were on the 10th, 9th etc right on back to 20 days ago.

For my documents I keep just 4 copies.

For photos just 2 copies.

Once Cobian backs up the selected amount of times , it then deletes the oldest before backing up again so you always have the latest files.

All of my files are backed up to a folder on a second drive (D:backup)

This happens at 12 noon each day, then at 12:10 Cobian backs up that D:backup to C:Backup

Each week I ghost my C: drive to a folder on D: and my D: drive to a folder on C:

For this I use Macrium Reflect, another freeware program.

So, I'm protected from my own accidental delete or overwrites and from catastrophic drive failure.

Drives are so cheap these days that there is no excuse for not having a backup drive.

My two drives are identical 1TB drives. Cost, about $150 each.

 

Some things I've learned to watch out for.

Don't buy drives bigger than 1TB, there are constant problems with 1.5 and 2 TB drives which defeats the purpose.

Don't use an external drive unless you really must. External drives fail at a way faster rate than internals.

If you back up to CD or DVD, put them straight into a paper sleeve and store them where they don't get moved.

Make sure you keep a backup off site. If you work in an office, take a backup home. If you work at home, keep one at your inlaws.

 

KonGC

 

Why would external drives fail more often than internal ones ????

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Why would external drives fail more often than internal ones ????

 

Generally they are not cooled as well as internal drives.

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Cipro

Why would external drives fail more often than internal ones ????

 

Depends on the use and the enclosure, there's really no such thing as an "external drive" as such; they all have some sort of interface and power supply they connect to. Cooling, stability of power, and gentle handling will tend to make a drive happier. Small cheap enclosures such as those used for many USB drives will tend to provide less ideal conditions for the drive, but the best storage systems on the planet are also "external" SAN systems, so there is no hard and fast rule.

 

 

 

  • Accidental overwrite or erasure: You have the media but due to some accident the data is gone. You saved a file with the same name, or you edited it, and saved, and now realize you want the old version back. Someone else erased it accidentally on a shared computer. In any case the media is still in your control, but the computer did exactly what someone asked and while it's functioning perfectly, the request was a mistake.

 

 

There are several ways to protect against this, the most primitive is to copy the directories1 where your data is stored to a folder named <original name>.<date> or some similar technique. Obviously this has issues, the next step up from this is to use something like ZIP or 7-Zip to create a compressed archive of the data directories and name that some way that indicates it's date. Then you can have solutions like Kenny listed, software that basically automates this whole process. Unfortunately those are all sort of weaksauce solutions.

 

The right way to solve this issue is to use something known as "Revision Control Software", and several free solutions are available. In generic terms, RCS allows you to capture every change to the digital assets, usually by using some efficient form of reverse delta encoding. Wonder what your document looked like last year? Have yourself a peek without disturbing your current workflow. Need a version for one purpose and a second version for another, maybe different customers? No problem, create a fork (branch) and continue working independently, merging changes2 in one to the other as desired.

 

There are several solutions but GIT and Subversion are probably the most popular and full featured. For a gentle introduction, go download the current version of TortoiseSVN and use it. It can enable collaboration and other things, but for simple personal use, just tell it to use a file path as it's datastore. Then you have a single place, the RCS datastore, that you need to protect from the other sources of data loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 - Try to keep your work in directories off a common root if you can. Avoid mingling things you want archived and things you don't. This keeps things a lot simpler. Using RCS makes this simple because all you have to backup is the datastore, not the "real" files.

 

2 - Text only, usually

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Experienced

Why would external drives fail more often than internal ones ????

Generally they are not cooled as well as internal drives.

 

External drives are also more likely to get knocked off the desk, pulled onto the floor by a toddler, lost or stolen from a laptop bag, etc.

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KennyF
Why would external drives fail more often than internal ones ????

 

I don't know.

Maybe it's as other posters have suggested.

But in my buddies repair shop he gets more requests to rescue data from externals than internals, and as there are far more internals (every PC) than externals, you just got to face it that externals are for whatever reason, vulnerable.

 

I myself have had three in the last 8 years and all have failed.

 

KonGC

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aussiedon

my exwife installed a thing called Deep Freze on my laptop, it erased the last 10 years of my life.

pissed off I can tell you

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USMC-Retired

I just use a cloud service to store my documents. Important things are on a external HD and encrypted on the cloud service.

 

Also just so you know if drink and compute. Spilling a beer on the keyboard of your laptop is one sure fire way to fry the puppy. Yet lucky for you that HD is removable and can be sleeved.

Edited by Norseman
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Experienced

I just use a cloud service to store my documents. Important things are on a external HD and encrypted on the cloud service.

 

Also just so you know if drink and compute. Spilling a beer on the keyboard of your laptop is one sure fire way to fry the puppy. Yet lucky for you that HD is removable and can be sleeved.

 

Been there. Done that. At 7:30 pm the evening before a couple of CEO-level client presentations.

 

Not beer, as it happens, but cherry Crystal Light will do the job just as well.

 

Good thing the Apple Store was still open.

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USMC-Retired

What I have seen more times that not. Windows will freeze up and not reboot. So people believe that there data is lost when in reality it is still there. So they take it in and reformat the computer (which does erase the data) and have windows installed. This is one reason I am against aggressive registry tools and tools that modify the computer to make it faster. That is unless you know what you are doing.

 

If windows does do that. You just need to reinstall windows. Do not format or anything. Windows is sorta smart. It will say you have a previous version of windows installed. Do you want to keep it.. You say yes and then that previous version is a folder called windows(old) on your c:drive. Then you can navigate to that folder and your documents are there.

Edited by Norseman
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