Back Up your Computer

There is a little buzz over at Geneabloggers, and Geneabloggers on Facebook about data backup day, which is a great idea which Thomas put out there.  Since my data situation may be a little more complicated than most peoples, I though I would outline my backup plan here.  This is a plan for the data on our computers here at home, and does not include our blogs and websites.  That’s a separate plan, which most Geneabloggers wouldn’t need to duplicate.

I actually have two 500 gb fixed drives for backup, one in my desktop, and one in Papa’s old desktop.  (These are not the hard drive that the computers came with, I added second hard drives to both desktops.)  Papa uses his laptop exclusively, but I keep the desktop on, and have it backup our data every day,  It doesn’t slow me down, Papa isn’t here on weekdays so it doesn’t bother him.  I don’t backup my laptop, since it is just a mirror of my desktop genealogy data, I re-write the gene data to my laptop before each library or research trip.  Here is the backup scheme, in case you need advice.

OK,  for our four computers, 2 desktops and 2 laptops here’s the system:

Our data consists of:

  1. Papa’s personal files, e-mail files and recent photo files on his laptop
  2. A copy of the above on the main drive of his desktop
  3. A photo archive (before 2007)  and a copy of (1) above on a backup drive on desktop (we never delete anything on this drive, just add new)
  4. Granny’s personal files, e-mail files, genealogy data and scanned family photos on my desktop
  5. A sometimes up-to date copy of a portion of the above on my laptop.

So, our backup data is pretty obvious, to a point:

  • Papa’s personal, e-mail and recent photos exist on his laptop, the main drive of his desktop and on his backup drive.  The backup plan for this is:
    • Backup  laptop data to desktop C:\ daily
    • Backup desktop data to backup drive daily, this drive contains the old photo archive, in addition to the news ones
    • Backup the  backup drive to the backup drive on Granny’s computer weekly
  • Granny’s personal, e-mail, genealogy and family history exist on my desktop.
    • Copy gene data to laptop before a research trip
    • Backup Desktop to backup drive daily
    • Backup the backup drive to the backup drive on Papa’s computer weekly.

I hope all this duplication will keep our data safe, but just in case, I we are going to purchase external backup drives to archive our times on monthly.  There will be two, and one will be kept somewhere besides our home. When a months ends or begins, I will backup both archive files onto the other drive, and trade it out.  So, we will always have a backup within a month of data off site.

Overkill?  Perhaps.  But I never worry about our computer files.

Have a good day, and do back up!


  1. Makes perfect sense to me. Being in the IT field for 25 years I know the importance of backups – and if you think something won’t happen it will. I remember when I worked at one place, there was a fire in the building and while our floor was not technically damaged, the entire building was closed for over a year due to asbestos leaking throughout the place during the firefighting efforts. Luckily we had sent out our backup tapes, offsite, just the night before – we were able to set up a new office in less than a week and get up and running again.

  2. I once, years ago, worked in a small quality department which had no backup plan, and no backups; this was before QS-9000 and ISO 9000 and all of that. Anyway, the cleaning people dropped, knocked or threw the computer onto the floor one night, and you know the rest. No backup, no data. I’ve never been without a backup of all my home data since that time.

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