Frank Mezzatesta
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Computer files loss prevention

In 1996 I bought my first digital camera for $1,000. Yes as a early adopter things are expensive. What I realized as I transitioned from film to digital was it was going to be easy to lose all my photos. One disk crash and that would be the end of all of them. So I immediately came up with ways to avoid loss of all these photos. So this is just an example of files that we don't want to ever lose. This write-up should give you some ideas but the take away is do something!

Files can be lost forever due to many reasons
#1 - Disk failure. Now I grew up in the 1970's writing software when disks were very unreliable. So we all learned quickly to back up our data at least once a day. You didn't want to spend days writing a program only to have a disk crash and start over.

#2 - Disaster. There are "disaster recovery" concepts for disasters like fires, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, etc. The basic solution is to have your data in two far apart places that can't be hit by the same disaster at the same time.

#3 - You accidentally delete files you want to save. If you realize this immediately, of course you can pull the files from the recycle bin or from your backup system. The insidious problem is you don't realize what you have done for weeks or months. I have seen this happen at work where someone is cleaning up files only to discover a year later they also deleted important files.

#4 - Ransomware. You lose all your files to a virus or ransomware. No one should ever have to pay someone to get your files back.

What about the Cloud?
If you have everything backed up on the cloud somewhere and you are good with that, you are in good shape for #1 and #2 and #4. Check to see if they offer help with #3. For me, I don't trust any company with my pictures, let alone my password files or financial spreadsheets. So no cloud storage for me.

What to do without the Cloud
I start with a Time Capsule (could be any network storage device NAS) to backup all my many computers. The Mac laptops use Time Machine and automatically back up everything (#1, #3, #4). For my main programming and financial computer, a PC, I manually back up my files daily to another disk in the same computer (#1) and to the Time Capsule (NAS) as well (#1, #4).

Once a year I backup these files to a optical disk, dual layer Blu ray disc. I then drive it to the bank and put it in my safety deposit box. I don't toss the previous one, I just keep adding discs to the box. This helps with #2, #3, and somewhat #4.

Now in case of an evacuation, on the minds of many of us in California, you grab your family, and next you grab your Time Capsule/NAS system. If you did things right you have all your files.

Now to turn what started as a negative and turn it into a positive, over time I am scanning my old physical pictures and documents. During an evacuation, the backup disk will have all photos and documents that are irreplaceable. Previously I had a list of things to grab including photo albums, financial records, others household paper records. Now there is really nothing on paper that is really important to take.

Two last ideas, a fireproof vault at home will withstand a fire and most other disasters. Another idea is to store files at a friends or family members house. If you don't trust them, you can encrypt the files.

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