How to Backup your files safely

Published March 2017 by Leanne Millar BSc

You can never have too many backups

I have recently recovered from what I can honestly say was one of the worst 15 minutes of my life. I have always been rather anal about backing up my documents, photos and music collection. To the point where I had 3 or 4 cloud drives and about three copies of each image, document and audio file that I own or have created. About 12 months ago I thought to myself; this is getting a bit ridiculous. It's time you sorted these files out. I mean 22,000 and four cloud backups is a bit excessive, right? So in my usual way of sorting things out. First, I made sure I had all the files on my hard drive. Secondly, I deleted every backup because there was no sense in paying for four different cloud providers, and thirdly I organised all of the files and got rid of the duplicates. Needless to say, it took me weeks to get through, but I persisted and got there in the end. I made a hard drive backup to a 2TB pen drive. I made another hard drive backup (This time with just the niece and nephews photos) onto another 1tb External Hard Drive for the sister-in-law/ technophobe. Then I downloaded OneDrive and Amazon Prime and made a cloud copy of both of the files. I've recently had a disaster involving some e-liquid and my laptop. Not to worry I thought. I have all of my things backed up, and I'm insured. How wrong could I have been?

Let me paint you a picture

Firstly let me tell you insurance is a nightmare. Insurance companies never pay what they are supposed to, and you have to go through a month or two of hell to receive a pay-out. Secondly, never trust just one cloud backup or pen drives for that matter. My Pen drive which is usually pretty reliable informed me that the majority of my images on the drive are corrupted. It's ok, I'm thinking at this point. I have cloud backups we're ok. I've still got them.

First five minutes

So naturally, I went to check this. My OneDrive account had not been activated to my master family account. I have five accounts running through this and because I'd accidentally removed it from my family account all of the files had been deleted. All I have is an excellent list of empty folders and a few useless files I don't need. Thank god I had the little 1tb Ext HDD. I hadn't lost any of my sister-in-law's photos, but I'm still frantic. In fact, I'm more than frantic. I'm in a state of panic now. Forget the music (I can buy this again, I have Prime Music and Spotify and YouTube). Forget the documents, (I probably don't need them anyway, and I have prints of client files and another backup of those separate). Right now all I can think about are all of my personal photos. My 16-year-old sister and brother growing up, my late grandparents, my partner and myself from the beginning of our 8-year relationship until now, and my beautiful little furbabies from when they were babies to now. The best ones are on Facebook I'm consoling myself, but I know there are still 21,550 very personal and amazing photos that aren't. I'm feeling sick to the stomach. My head is spinning. At this point, I don't remember that my beloved Amazon Prime has a cloud backup and I'm a complete emotional wreck.

The second five minutes

It's 2 am, and my partner is naturally asleep (like most ordinary people). I shouted for her, and I'm freaking out. I've lost all my photos. Why did I sort them out? YEARS and not one single lost photo. YEARS!! It's everything I can do not to burst into tears, throw up and call my Dad at 2 am. (3 am Germany Time). They're just photos; I have my memories (but it's not the same). "What about that blue hard drive?" my partner says. "Oh yeah... I'll check it" I reply. So I plug in the blue hard drive, and it's empty. My stomach starts whirling again. I'm seriously distraught.

The third five minutes

"What about Amazon?" I go on Amazon praying that they are there. Waiting for what seemed like forever for the drive folder to load up. Three minutes later and there they were, going right back to 2000. All of the photos I have ever taken. The relief that washed over me I will never be able to find the words to explain. Thank you once again, Amazon. My trustworthy £70 per year companion who has saved my backside more times than I care to admit. Like when I forgot to get my partners birthday card and present two years ago and was working a 48-hour shift.

The moral of the story

Firstly, you can never have too many backups. Secondly, I'm not being paid to advertise Amazon, but their Prime service truly is fantastic! Thirdly, remember to write down on PAPER what you've backed up and where and check them frequently. Please see the attached video on how to securely backup your files.


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