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Check your backups

About 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "Everything changes and nothing stands still." But, for some odd reason, people seem to think that if they setup a backup program, despite a changing world, the backup will always continue to backup whatever is needed without adjustment. It doesn't work. As we get new programs and try new things, sometimes more things need to get backed up. Also, backup programs can fail.

So we need to check two things:
  • Is the backup program working?
  • Is the stuff we need to have backed up getting backed up?

Is it working?

Depending on your backup program the way to check will be different. What is essential is that you have a quick, easy simple way to determine if the backup program seems to be working. Usually, if it thinks it is working, it is. It is much more important to do a check frequently than to do a deep analysis once and then forget it. So make it simple. For example, most backup programs make a log of what they've been doing. Check it before you leave work a couple times a week.

Is my important stuff getting backed up?

This is harder. If you want to make sure your email is backed up, then look at your backup media and see if it is there. When you get a new program, check that the work created by it is getting backed up. If you have an accounting program, check the backup media and see if multiple copies are there, and they are recent and they are about the size you would expect.

If you make sure your important work is saved to your documents folder or your pictures folder and/or your desktop and those are backed up, then you are safe. For example, I've started doing more demonstration screen videos for my newsletters. Where should I store this work? I decided to make a folder under Documents and put all my video work there because it was already being backed up. I consciously made that decision rather than just letting the video program put it wherever it wanted, requiring me to find it and then make a new backup profile to include that place in the backup regimen.

As always, I'll assist you in setting up a procedure that will work for you or helping you to check your backups.

Date: September 2016

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