I've been backing up my personal computer systems for 30 years. Back in the MS-DOS days I had a tape drive. I ran Norton Backup. For efficient backups I partitioned my disk into C: for the OS, D: for programs, and E: for data files. Oddly, those old tape drives still exist, stored on a dusty basement shelf.

For the past 15 years or so I have relied on rsnapshot and rsync.

I use three layered strategy. The first layer is a second internal hard disk. I use a cron job to run hourly rsnapshot backups to copy data files from the primary disk to the second disk. I use this layer often. Commonly I use the backups to compare changes I made to current files. I'm human and sometimes I experience fat finger mistakes and need to restore data files. With an internal disk restoring data files is painless and efficient.

The second layer is using rsync to copy the entire operating system and data files to an external weekly backup disk. I have two weekly backup disks and alternate between them. Some years ago I had a weekly backup drive fail in the middle of the backup. I was watching the rsync stdout spew and suddenly the spew stopped. Just plain dead.

The third layer is cloned disks of both internal disks. I use my own shell script using rsync to clone the disks. I use calendar reminders and cron jobs to remind me to clone the disk every three days. The idea of the clone disks is to restore a failed disk as fast as possible without needing to reinstall anything.

In all of those years I probably can count on one hand how many times I lost important data.

I've been fortunate that I never had to rebuild a computer system from scratch because of a failed hard disk. Nonetheless I don’t mind the additional effort of maintaining backups. Losing data is not palatable. Backups are natural to my way of thinking.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General

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