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The Lanham Factor The (ir)rational thoughts of a (not-so)mad man

While shutting down a little over a week ago, the user profile I use on my laptop became corrupt.  I started noticing ever-increasing problems over the next few days.  Finally I decided to just wipe and rebuild the system.  I have advocated that developers and the like should consider rebuilding their systems every 12-18 months.  It's been 14 months since I purchased this laptop.  So...corrupt profile, system problems, have backups, within 12-18 month timeframe....everything fits.

So why did I find myself reluctant?

When I reapplied the operating system and checked Windows Update for the first time, I needed 77 critical updates.  77.  Wow.  It's been three days and I am all up-to-date, defragged, and most reinstalled.  As I have experienced many times, rebuilding is beneficial.  It's good for the soul (so to speak).  Now in all this I'm ignoring the fact that Windows and/or Outlook deleted the .pst file in my profile folder.  Okay so the profile is corrupt...what are you doing deleting files?

Anyway, I have solid backups.  I backup regularly and often irregularly.  It's not a "clean" backup procedure in that I do perform some ad hoc backups.  However, I have found a few techniques over the years that help me.  Here is a listing of some of the techniques I use (in no particular order).  What other techniques do you use?  Please share to help everyone do better backups.

  1. File Locations - I keep all of my files for projects, business, work, etc. in a small set of locations.  I use "My Documents" (and sub folders) as well as some specific files off of the root of C:\.  When I need a "complete" system backup, I simply grab the 3 or 4 folders and copy them to the backup location.
  2. Mail in Two Places at Once - I have about 7 email addresses altogether.  I pull 3 of them into Outlook.  1 of them is for my day job (on Exchange).  The other three are Web-based and they stay that way.  I instruct Outlook to leave mail messages on the server until I remove them from the "Deleted Items" folder.  Basically, this means if I lose mail between backups I don't really "lose" it.
  3. Single App Backups - Some apps, like Quicken and Outlook, offer a backup and/or archive feature.  I use these features pretty often and independently of other backups.  For example, every time I pay bills (at least twice a year whether or not I need to), I backup the Quicken files.  I also include these files in the regular backup process.  Overkill?  Maybe but I'm sure.
  4. Multiple Backup Locations - I backup to several locations.  I use another workstation at my place.  That machine has two drives and I backup to both (although not every time).  This way if one drive fails...well...ya know.  Also, if I have a problem with a backup or a backup drive, I perform another backup immediately to a different location.  Finally, I use an external hard drive for backups.
Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007 1:57 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Practicing What I Preach - Backup and Rebuild

# re: Practicing What I Preach - Backup and Rebuild
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Watch your Quicken backups. A few months ago my Quicken files lost all categories and all payees. So, I restored from my prior back up. Turns out, they were still missing. That was odd because they were there when I performed the backup. Did some research and "it seems" that Quicken does not validate the indexes of the file during backup. Apparantly I had corrupt indexes and had to run a Validate Utillity (which Quicken recommends you don't run on a regular basis because it will delete the bad data :O ). I had to go back 7 (yeah, I said 7) backups to find a backup without corrupt indexes. Then I had to rekey the lost data.

Even though Quicken recommends that you do NOT run Validate - I follow my backup with a Validate periodically.
Left by redwards on Apr 27, 2007 3:59 PM

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