Monday, January 4, 2010

Don't Forget to Back Up Your Work with Your Own Devices

In an article titled 10 Things Not to Buy in 2010, AnnaMaria Andriotis of SmartMoney advocates saving your money over purchasing a phone line in your home, DVDs, digital cameras, or newspapers.

External hard drives

Consumers who keep their computers for years and upload thousands of songs, videos, movies and photos will need to get more space at some point.

External hard drives are one option, but an up-and-coming alternative might be simpler and save you another transition down the road. Online backup services, like or, allow users to back up data over the Internet.

These services are more expensive than purchasing an external hard drive, which typically starts at around $70. At, a one-year subscription starts at $54.95, and at monthly subscription costs total $54.45 for a year.

Andriotis has lost her mind. A thrifty and savvy shopper can purchase an external hard drive for less than $70. I bought my mom her external hard drive this summer at Target for less than $50. However a hard drive at $100 is still less than a $50 yearly fee. A drive should last more than two years. I consider a drive a long-term investment. You want your drive to store and protect your beloved files: your music, your digital photographs and archived negatives, your e-mail, articles, blog posts, and more.

But more importantly, there's no guarantee that Carbonite or Mozy will be around tomorrow. You control the longevity of your files. If you store your files on a drive, and keep it in a fire proof safe, you can protect your files from harm. But can your protect the servers, database, and offices of Carbonite and Mozy? How will you guarantee that the companies will not go under? Or lose your files as JournalSpace did when it overwrote its servers?

Feel free to store your files in a cloud or off site database if you want to, but make sure you back up your own files, too. It would be shortsighted and gullible to trust anyone without doing so.

This is how I believe in backing up files: 1. Never throw away photographs and never ever ever ever throw away negatives. Store negatives in a temperate safe place. (I keep all of my negatives in a disaster-proof safe. It's also where I keep some of my cameras and my important documents. Best birthday gift ever!) 2. Regularly back up your hard drive on an external hard drive. Keep that hard drive in a safe place. Like your safe. 3. Keep a second copy of that external hard drive and store it somewhere else. My professor lost his entire career in a fire. I store everything important in at least two places, and when I work on a freelance project, I save the file in multiple places. A deadline will come and go regardless of a crashed hard drive, dead off site paid server, or natural disaster. Losing money and valuable documents is not a chance I'm willing to take. And you shouldn't either.

While I still have your attention: Andriotis argues that the already suffering newspaper industry should die a cold, cruel death at your hands. While it's true that you can read many newspapers on the Amazon Kindle, a Kindle subscription will not sustain a newspaper. In fact, newspapers lose money providing a Kindle version of their product. If you want news to survive the next decade, hold on to your subscription. Also keep in mind that not every paper is on the Kindle either. My local paper, for example, is not available. And though it has a Web site, it doesn't provide everything online. So I know that the people in my town are missing out on a lot of news by following the asinine advice in this moronic article.

Finally, Androitis is wrong when she writes, "When was the last time you bought a CD or even walked into a record store?" The music industry is failing, but it's failing because of its own archaic practices and the major labels' inability to handle its product or its consumers.

Let the record show the following facts: I have purchased a grand total of three albums and zero individual songs from iTunes. threeOne album was for an upcoming lesson on this blog and I'll probably buy a vinyl version when I can afford it. In the last two months I have purchased seven records and one CD. For Christmas I received one record and one CD. And when I looked for a CD my grandfather wanted, the Target I went to was sold out (so was Wal-Mart, according to the Target clerk, who looked on his Blackberry, and two nearby Targets). The music section had been ransacked and was mostly empty. It was Christmas and people bought CDs.

Thank you for your time, Old People. Again: off site storage is OK, but make sure to have a second (and third) back up. Invest in external hardware!

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