My old Toshiba Satellite just died. Had that computer for 3-4 years and it's been around the world with me through Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America, and the Caribbean. Something like 20-30 countries. I had a lot of nice memories with that computer, and it survived an absolute beating before finally kicking the bucket. The casing is cracked in all sorts of places, the screen has been battered and is spotty in a couple places, the CD drive doesn't quite work correctly, the battery only has a few minutes of charge, and I had to replace the power cord for it twice. But it kept going, and I did some great work on that computer.
But, today it is no more. It wouldn't boot up. I had a Windows installation disk with me, and it won't install either. I spent a few hours trying to do some sort of repair, but it ain't happening. So long, Satellite. Thanks for the memories.
But enough with the nostalgia. On a prgmatic note, when's the last time you backed up your computer? I back up my computer once every week or two, but only now am I realizing a few things I lost. There's a couple living documents I had that I haven't backed up in two months, so I lost the last few brainstorms I had. Also, I had just transfered a bunch of pictures and then cleared the space off my iPhone, so those pictures are lost to the ether forever. Nothing too amazing, but I did lose a few decent pictures of Vietnam.
All sorts of media and then my general settings - that's a big one I didn't think about. In January before I left the States, I did a full backup of my computer and then I wrote down all the programs and settings and extensions I had on my computer. Then I installed a clean version of Windows and went and re-installed/re-configured everything. My configurations have evolved since then, and I don't have them down. I'll put it back together quickly enough when I get a new computer, but it would've saved me time if I'd made a document of that.
So yeah - friendly reminder from Sebastian: Back up your computer. When's the last time you did it? Is there a mix of online and offline backups? That is, would you still have your most key stuff if, heaven forbid, your apartment caught on fire? You can email the most critical documents and pictures to yourself which is the bare minimum lazy man's backup you should do. External hard drives are cheap, go grab one and put all your media on there if that's important to you and you're settled into one location. Also consider scanning and uploading non-digital files that are really important to you - letters and pictures especially. It'd be a shame to lose those.
This doesn't have to be a major project - just get started on it. I was reasonably well prepared for my computer to die, and it's still kind of a hassle. If you're not prepared at all, it'd be a world of pain for you. Get prepared - when's the last time you made a backup of your important stuff? Would now be a good time to do so?
I don't care so much about configuration files, etc. When I need a fresh install I use it as an opportunity to start from scratch - I don't install stuff until I need it. That way the stuff I no longer use quietly drops off my radar instead of hanging around on my start menu.
I do weekly backups of work and photos onto an external drive, so I'm not too worried on that front.
At the moment my single failure point is my apartment. I hide my external drive, so it's probably safe form burglars (unless they come in while I'm using it to do my weekly backup!). Fire/total destruction is more of a problem though. I'm liking the look of JungleDisk for my offsite backup but have yet to get around to setting it up...
Two weeks ago, I wrote "Damn Inbox - I'm Not Doing Anything Until It's Empty" - and then I cleared it out.
Now the sucker is back up to 45 messages. How'd that happen?
I think here's what happened -
1. My email volume has been going up, and I haven't adjusted to a new routine for it. Before I'd go into my inbox, clear a third of it when I had free time waiting for something, and then do that twice more in the day, and it'd be empty at the end of the day. Now, I'm going to need to set aside more time for it.
2. I'm answering/replying/writing a lot more emails, so it feels like it should be empty - but then I'm leaving one or two messages there that weren't there at the end of the day. This is like spending more money than you've got coming in - it's going to catch up with you sooner or later.
I have been thinking about all the pictures I have snapped during the last 12 years, that I have some sort of digital camera. A lot of memories preserved, and a lot of emotions captured in one huge collection. About 15000 pictures lie around on my PCs and laptops for years.
What I realized recently gave me a chill - I do not have a backup of my photos! Actually, I have copied all my photos from my desktop PC to my laptop, but there are some additional photos on my smartphone. I also have some duplicated backup folders with pictures copied from my previous smartphones and cameras, and it's all one big mess.
When I purchased my Samsung Galaxy SIII I have got a free 50 GB Dropbox storage plan, which I have used among other things, for backup of my documents and pictures. Easy to forget, this free plan had two year duration period, and after it expired, Dropbox politely informed me to pay up (120 EUR a year) to continue or move out. I think that giving an user something for free and then revoking it is good way to lose a customer.
Luckily, I have found another service, which backs up all your photos for free, although in limited resolution (1024 pix on long side). It is called Shoebox. They also have a paid plan ($48 per year) to store unlimited original resolution images online.