jump to navigation

Watch your back – what is YOUR back-up system? September 15, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

Cleveland got hit with the remnants of Ike yesterday. We had sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts of 50-60 mph for several hours, some rain, and lots of downed trees and power lines. The lights flickered a couple times here, so I decided to turn off my computer and settle in with a good book. Before I did, I e-mailed the translation I was working on to my Gmail account – just in case I needed to go somewhere else to access and work on it today, because it is due at EOB.

Luckily I didn’t lose power, but 336,000 people in the Cleveland area did. It got me to thinking about back-up systems. I used to back up on a zip drive back in Germany. Now I have an external hard drive. I have it set to automatically back up my files at midnight every night, because I usually have my computer on but am watching TV. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked in about a year. I tried to update the driver and reinstall it recently when I had some down time, but the thing is just an expensive paperweight at the moment. I need to buy a new one, and I think this week will finally be the time I do it.

It is also really important to keep a copy of your important files off-site in case of a power outage, flood, fire, etc. I know this and yet I rarely do it.  Jost Zetzsche, who writes the biweekly newsletter for translators called The Tool Kit (if you don’t subscribe, I highly recommend you do – lots of good information about translation tools and other issues!), mentioned once that he stores his external hard drive in his car. As I said before, my off-site back-up system consists solely of me mailing files to my Gmail account. I used this more when I was teaching at Kent State and would e-mail the PowerPoint presentation and files I needed that day just in case my zip drive didn’t work. There are plenty of off-site file storage sites out there like RSync or Global Datavault (just to name the first two hits on Google), but there are so many it is hard to choose. Plus, most of them cater to big companies and not one-man operations. If you can recommend any that don’t cost an arm and a leg, I would love to hear about them!



1. Rafael - September 15, 2008

Apart from an external hard drive, until recently I also used an FTP folder. But tried Dropbox a few days ago and I really like it. Just select a directory in your computer, and any change will automatically be updated in your online account. You got 2 free GB, I guess more than enough for important documents.


2. Éric Léonard, trad. a. - September 15, 2008


Many people I know use Mozy, which works on PC and Mac. It’s fairly reasonable if you use a single workstation. My offsite backup strategy (for 2 Macs and a PC) is a USB key I carry with me at all times and to which I backup daily the last 7-days’ work (using Retrospect).

Good luck!

3. johan - September 15, 2008

I use Syncplicity and it works really well. It syncs to a server in the same way as Dropbox and also between my two computers, meaning I can easily switch to the laptop without transfering the files manually when I need to go somewhere. It’s still in beta though, but worked excellent during the 3-4 months that I’ve used it. 2 GB space is free.


I also use an small NAS from Freecom, but I’m not satisfied with it, so I’m looking for a replacement with some kind of RAID system.


4. Shannon - September 15, 2008

I use Carbonite for online backup. I chose it because it was only $50/yr for unlimited backup, and I had found other online services too restrictive in their space. Once you do the initial backup it just automatically backs up any file that changes, and even can save a few versions if you want it too. I haven’t had to use it to restore anything yet, but I like knowing it’s there!

5. Judy Jenner - September 15, 2008

I use an external hard drive that I have set up for 11 PM back-up, but I also recommend using it to occasionally back-up during the day when I am working on a very important document. I also use a USB stick if I am particularly paranoid. I think Jost’s idea about storing the external hard drive in the car is a great idea; but since I live in Las Vegas, that might not be such a good strategy for me the rest of the year!

6. Corinne McKay - September 15, 2008

Great post! And we are on the same wavelength or something; I hadn’t read this post yet and I wrote a post about backup system today as well. Maybe all of this crazy weather has us thinking about computer failures!

7. transubstantiation - September 16, 2008

Very good link to The Tool Kit. Thank you!

8. Janine Libbey - September 16, 2008

I use Dell’s online service which is reasonably priced. I have it programmed to run every day but I can also do an additional backup during the day if needed. I like the fact that I don’t have to do anything (or remember ) to back up the data.

9. tom - September 18, 2008

As far as i know there is a Free 5GB File Storage from Microsoft Live available called “Windows Live Folders” : http://folders.live.com/

As it is still in Beta Microsoft has neither released any desktop based file uploading client nor any tool to sync the online and offline file folders but i think this will change.

More: http://www.liveside.net/main/archive/2007/05/12/windows-live-folders-beta-review.aspx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: