Written by
Piotr Torończak

Piotr Torończak

Back the heck up!

Some years ago I noticed personal ad inside a bus shelter about lost laptop, with a reward guaranteed if found (someone had left it accidentally in that particular one). Begging tone did not mention value of the hardware. It was crying out loss of two years of work – files with the owner’s Master’s Thesis.

Truly inspiring story. “Be smarter” they said. “Learn from other people mistakes” they said. So I did. About a year after, my own Master’s Thesis was being copied, after any piece of work done, among two computers, two external drives and up to the cloud. Lesson learned.

There should not be any questions why make backups. Mis-clicks, failures, accidents and natural disasters take place on not so rare occasions. I can’t tell how many times my professional work was saved just because I have been following a simple rule: make backups, as often as needed. It doesn’t matter whether you work as an IT administrator, a recruiter, a designer or a writer. Loosing few hours/days/months/please no – years – of work, hurts the same. Being non-technical worker does not exempt you from making one before (and even during – graphic designers can relate) any major edit. Accidental wipe of a table with financial data does not resonate that much (especially financially) if it was backed up.

Ask IT administrators in your company how can you make backups and make good use of them when needed. Many solutions even offer version control of your documents (similar to source code version control – you can return to one of the previously saved versions of your documents). Turn on auto save option in your office applications. Save data somewhere outside your computers (USB stick, external drive, Cloud). IT Administrators – make backups before any major change on databases or virtual machines (oh, I’m sorry, you are the Admins, I don’t have to tell you that).

So here’s me, again, telling you what you should do. When it’s about making backups I’m not perfect either – take a look at this friendly reminder sticker on my laptop. It helps me at least aspire for one.

A friendly reminder sticker

Dear Parent, please read this part very carefully.

About ten years ago my aunt told me what would be the first thing she would try to save if her house was on fire – albums with pictures. Even if they don’t seem like now, seeing in twenty years your beloved children making their first steps will make them have a tremendous emotional value. Things happen – fires, burglaries, bad lucks and hardware failures. If you haven’t done so already – make additional copies of all the family pictures and videos you have into any separate disc, drive or location. Now.


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2 thoughts in Comments

  1. Peter B-S

    I learned a similar painful lesson myself many many years ago.

    In the days of the command line, del *.* was a powerful and dangerous thing to type.

    Of course I always checked I was in the right directory.

    Until one day I didn’t.

    It said “are you sure?”. And of course I was!

    But I was wrong and about 50 hours of work disappeared in a flurry of flashing orange LEDs

    As you say: Lesson learned


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