Saturday, May 2, 2009

Data Backup Day: Why You Should Backup Nightly

Yesterday was Data Backup Day. When I first started doing genealogy, I never backed up. But for the last 2 years or so I've been backing up nightly. I use Mozy, which I highly recommend. I also put my backups on a flash drive and save them with the date in the title. Some people overwrite their files every night instead, but what happened to me yesterday is an example of why you shouldn't overwrite every night. When I last used my Legacy database on 4/28, everything was fine. Even last night, when I opened the database around 8 PM, everything was fine. I was running reports on my brother-in-law's great-grandparents, Peter Louis DeLuca, Sr. and Clementina Matilda "Clara" Trillo, whom I've been studying for the last few months. One of the last reports I printed was an individual report which included medical notes for Clara. Then my mom called, and we talked for about 30 minutes, then I called my sister in California, and we talked about 30 minutes. When I got back to the database, I started printing Peter's research notes, and everything was fine. When I went to print Clara's research notes (which was about 2-3 pages worth of notes), they had disappeared, along with the medical notes. Luckily, I was able to go to Mozy, choose the file I backed up last on 4/28, save it to a different folder than the one my main databse is in (so it wouldn't overwrite; I think Mozy will rename the restored file, though, if you choose to put it in the same folder), open the restored file, copy the research notes, and then paste them back into my main file. I did not want to overwrite the main file b/c I had just edited Peter's notes, as well as several other small edits, in the main file right before Clara's notes disappeared. I did not want to lose that data. If I hadn't noticed that Clara's notes disappeared until later this week, and I overwrote my backup file every night, then I would have completely lost those notes when I backed up last night. This is why you should backup nightly with a different file name every night, such as "My Ancestors_04.28.09." I usually discard them after a month or two has passed, thereby keeping a month to two month's worth of backups at a time.

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