The best $39.99 I spent in 2008

I welcomed in the new year with a complete meltdown of my laptop.  Things started to go wrong about 4:30 PM on New years eve, and with in an hour I realized that I would be reinstalling my laptop completely.  I might have been really aggravated except for two things.  First and most importantly I was prepared for a disaster!  Second, for a while now I really wanted to get a clean start I have had this machine about 18 months which is probably longer then I have ever gone before with out starting clean, I just didn’t think I would have the time to do it before Lotusphere until fate intervened When I first configured my laptop I had the foresight to take an image of the OS Install before anything else, it took about 45 minutes to restore that image.  After a few Windows updates, and Lenovo system update I was ready to go.  ( I could snapshot the machine with all my software installed but lets face it over 18 months the software I used has changed significantly so I don’t see the point) Over the years I have tried various different backup strategies, with varying degree of success (OK If I had a Mac I would be using Time Machine), but last year I was looking for a solution that just worked, and required no intervention on my part to maintain it.  After looking at a few options I went with Carbonite.  Once you subscribe you select which folders should be backed up, and just let it run.  Over the year I used it a few times to restore individual files (some times just to test it, a couple of times due to accidental deletions).  After restoring my OS I logged in to the Carbonite site, installed the application, and put it in recovery mode, like magic my data started flowing back to my machine.   For the most part I do keep local backups as well on external drives, but those drives are not always connected, and are at times out of date, while the Carbonite backup just keeps on going.  In a complete coincidence earlier in the day on December 31, I had blogged some 2008 statistics this left me with a screen shot of how many pictures I had by year since 2002, giving me something to match my restored data against which it did perfectly! So how do you back up your PC? Are you ready for a disaster (or at least a crash)? In the process of reinstalling I made some changes to the software I use Trilian is being replaced by Digsby Adobe Reader is gone replaced by Foxit Reader I have not yet reinstalled Microsoft Office for the time being I am going to hold off, and see how far I can go with just Symphony.  Speaking of Symphony I am running the version in the Notes 8.5 Client, would have been nice if Notes 8.5 had shipped in time for my little disaster, so I am back to a recent Beta Drop until 8;5 gold is released.

4 Responses to The best $39.99 I spent in 2008
  1. Jim Casale
    January 2, 2009 | 9:59 am

    Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files works just like Carbonite except you have to provide the storage. You can back up to another local drive, USB drive, file server, or TSM. It’s a one time fee to buy it so in the long run it might save you some money. (I bought mine retail when it first came out for around 39 dollars.

    How was the restore speed of Carbonite?

  2. David Schaffer
    January 2, 2009 | 10:12 am

    It sounds like you were well prepared.
    I try hard to keep everything crucial in a Notes database or on a Quickr server so I can work from any machine. The rest I back up periodically, using a batch file and XCOPY (OK, so I’m old school), to a share on a Samba server at home. I also back up Quicken and Quickr data using the programs’ backup function to an external drive.
    The biggest pain on rebuilding or replacing a computer is always the POP email (currently in Thunderbird). I also try to be very careful to restore the bare minimum of documents since I’m a bit of a packrat.
    Happy New Year.

  3. David Vasta
    January 2, 2009 | 10:32 am

    At home I am a Mac User, so I have an external USB drive and I use MacOSX built in Time-machine to back up at least once a day.

    I am not sure there is anything out there that is FREE and works like Time-machine.

    Sorry to hear you had problems, no one likes computer problems when they are trying to solve other problems.

  4. David Killingsworth
    January 4, 2009 | 9:48 pm

    @David Schaffer to export and backup your Thurnderbird mailboxes (mbox format is what is used in Thunderbird, but no easy way to export them built in)

    Use this Thunderbird extension:
    MboxImport enhanced
    { Link }

    You’ll have to manually perform the export periodically, but it has saved me a few times when my hard drive went bad and I was able to restore all of my mail (inbox AND sent) using an exported Mbox file that I simply re-imported after installing Thunderbird and the extension.