Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Do You Backup Your Data?

I have had two major data scares in my life. Well, make that one scare and one actual incident.  The first time was with a 500GB external drive with its own power source. It was nearly full and contained every photo I had ever taken from 2003-2010. One time I accidentally dropped something on it and it started to make a strange sound but continued to work without issue. Eventually the day came when I plugged it in and nothing happened. I had a total break down and panic attack right then and there because not a single photo was backed up anywhere. I felt numb, with a ringing in my ears and I couldn't stop crying. A silent vow was made to never take a photo again in my life.

david tennant sobbing gif 
A reenactment of me clutching my hard drive. via emotiongifs

Fortunately, a small pool of sanity remained within me and I decided to make sure the power cord hadn't gone bad before giving up on the past seven years of my life. Aaaand it was the power cord. I believe I wept tears of relief at that point and immediately purchased a second external drive (this one a tiny version that ran off of the computer's power), copied every file over and also started to burn CDs of every photo. With my images in three places I felt safe again.

But disaster was lurking around the corner. Or rather, disaster was lurking three and a half years into the future. Late November of last year I noticed that my trusty travel external was getting full. I decided to transfer some things off of it to make space for my sculpt videos, as well as other abitofgeek projects and personal photos. It was around this time that the drive decided to take a shit on itself mid-transfer. Suddenly everything was gone. Something cracked inside of me as I remembered that I hadn't burned pictures to discs in over two years, and I hadn't backed up 2013 at all. What proceeded can only be likened to the wails of a dying animal. The cat was staring at me with sheer incomprehension. I sat exhausted on the floor, once again covered in tears and with hard drives strewn about me as I desperately searched for back up copies. After all was said and done I had lost all of 2012's photos to the backstabbing external hard drive. It remains locked up awaiting potential data recovery.

two broke girls gif 
My reaction after accepting the loss of 2012's photos. via sanzano-gifs

This is part dramatic (but accurate) retelling, part cautionary tale, and part question. I'm looking for some better, safer options. I've tried looking into cloud storage before but it seems very expensive. Google's is $85/month for 1TB (more specifically it's $0.085/GB up to 1TB), Amazon is comparable in pricing, and that is just more than I can afford.

How do YOU backup your precious data? Does anyone use cloud storage? And can anyone recommend affordable options? How do you secure your irreplaceable data?


*header and preview images from Penny Arcade


I want to help, but I'm mostly here for the replies. I have my trusty external hard drive which is in desperate need of backing up. I never even considered backing up that back up. I don't think there is a way to be 100% safe without cloud storage, which is why it's so expensive.

It's frustrating, isn't it? I feel like I could have five hard drives spread around my house and one at my mom's and I would still be paranoid.

Damn Garrett! Thanks for the information! I still haven't gotten around to doing anything about my failed drive with 2012's photos on it. It's just sitting pitifully and whenever I come across it I glare and grumble. I wouldn't mind having a setup similar to yours, but on a smaller scale. This is all incredibly helpful! Especially the bits about Backblaze and Amazon Glacier. Thank you thank you!

Glad I could help.

The tl;dr

Don't rely on a the "working copy" and a single external hard drive for data storage ever! There are many options for file storage. offers a reliable, cheap online backup service that will backup anything directly plugged into your computer for 5$ a month. There services are offered "As Is" so if there is some data center rending catastrophic event they may lose your data. That being said they have a very good track record of keeping files safe and I have never heard of anyone losing any data. They offer great peace of mind and have saved me personally a couple times.

Amazon Glacier
Apocalypse surviving data durability.
Pay as much as you use it. Very cheap to put data in and maintain, not as cheap to get data out.
Harder to use that other consumer backup services.

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