Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
One of the Reasons I Think Backups Are SO Important
So, I know I talk a lot about backups. I talk about them pretty much almost every day to somebody dealing with an issue involving data loss. I want to tell you a little bit of a story that might explain why I find backups so incredibly important.
So, this story starts actually back in 1966. In 1966 I was nine years old, and my mother and I traveled to Holland. It was my first trip to Holland; it was actually my first trip on an airplane of any sort, because we were going to visit her parents. Now, back then, of course, getting on an airplane was a pretty big deal, and you can see we were all dressed up and ready to go.
It was, I think, a nine-hour flight: Vancouver to Amsterdam with a stopover either in Edmonton or Calgary, one way or the other. When we got there, my aunt and uncle picked us up and they instead of taking us directly to my grandparents’ home, they took us to a coffee shop where they sat us down and they told us that what had happened quite literally the day before, My grandparents’ home had burned in a fire. In fact, on my recent trip to Holland this couple of months ago, I went back looking for a couple of mementos or anything that could relate directly to that fire.
All I was able to find was this news report with a really bad picture that basically talks about the fire and that it happened. Nobody was hurt. My grandparents were then living a couple of doors down. They borrowed a place. So, one of the reasons that we went, one of the things that my mother was actually very much looking forward to was sharing much of what was in her grandparents’ home.
Now my parents emigrated from Holland to Canada actually in 1952. As part of that, they ended up taking very little with them. They took basically the bare minimum. What that meant was my mother left a majority of which we could consider family heirlooms, keepsakes and so forth at her parents’ home.
Unfortunately, much if not most of those keepsakes, were destroyed by this fire. What I learned in recent months is that my grandfather was actually one of the first people, especially in that area, to dabble with photography. We’re talking early 1900’s, 1920 to 1940 is the time-frame that I tend to think of for much of this.
He had a lot of photography equipment and took a lot of pictures. Pictures that, of course, would be meaningful to people like me generations later. All of those pictures were completely lost in this fire. So, where does this lead me to today? Well, two things: One, I wish those pictures had been backed up in some form. The problem was, of course, that the negatives, if there were negatives, the prints were all in the same place, and they were all destroyed by this fire.
One of the pushbacks I get from time to time when I talk about digital photography is that digital photography; digital pictures are so incredibly easy to lose. That’s true. If you delete the wrong file or delete the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can lose data.
It’s true for anything digital, but if you actually lose data, you haven’t backed up. What that really means is that backing up is also what digital makes almost trivially easy. Today, be it copying to another disk and taking that disk somewhere else or uploading to some Cloud storage or any of a number of other approaches to making bit for bit identical copies of your original photographs is within anybody’s grasp.
Now, of course, perhaps in reaction to much of what my family has lost in that fire, I’m backed up like crazy. When I take a picture with my camera or my phone, the first thing that happens is that it gets copied somewhere. In most cases, that copy is automatically uploaded to some Cloud storage – another copy. It’s also uploaded, or then downloaded actually from that Cloud storage to some of my other machines – more copies. Overnight, my collection of photographs gets copied from my desktop machine to a server I have in the basement. From that server, actually now from desktop machine once a night, they’re uploaded to some more Cloud storage.
Yep, it’s probably overkill, but I think you can understand why. I have precious few photographs of my parents together in those early years. This was like World War II when they were dealing with what was going on in Holland at the time. All of those photographs or many of those photographs were lost in 1966. I wonder what they were? What were they like? What did they look like? There are some. I definitely have some and in fact in this recent trip to Holland I even stumbled across this photograph which is a photograph of my mother that I didn’t even know existed. I certainly didn’t have a copy. Now, of course, that photograph has been scanned and backed up as have those photograph albums that my parents did have with them; the ones that they did elect to take with them when they immigrated.
So, my message here, the bottom line here, the point that I’m trying to make is simply this: One: No. Paper, old style photographs are not better than digital, in my opinion. You can lose them all in a heartbeat. We have. We’ve seen it happen. Digital photography is so much easier to quickly and instantly replicate in ways that prevent massive data loss that there’s simply no comparison as far as I’m concerned.
Even if you take all of the photographic manipulations you can do with digital editing tools, that one reason, the fact that you can instantly make a picture perfect, literally picture perfect copy of a photograph, makes it all worthwhile to me. Of course, you have to do it.
You must back up. That’s what I’ve been saying here at Ask Leo! for years. Backing up is so critically important for your work data, for your, maybe your, music, your photographs, whatever it is that is important to you. For me, I use to wonder – put it in a slightly different context – years ago, before I got into digital photography, before digital photography was a thing; I’ve always been a bit of a photographer. I’ve done the dark room thing; I’ve done the negative thing; I’ve printed my own prints; I’ve developed my own film.
I used to wonder if my house were to catch on fire, what would I do? What would I grab first? And aside from the pets and my wife and making sure that life and limb were safe, the first thing that I would grab would be the one thing that was the most irreplaceable, our photo albums. Everything else you can replace. Pictures, especially when there’s only one copy, you can’t.
Now, with the advent of digital photography, with the advent of so many options for backing things up, there are solutions. You don’t have to lose photographs that are meaningful to you. So, that’s one of the reasons that I talk about back ups so much and so often because every time I hear about data loss, in the back of my mind I’m saying to myself, “This didn’t have to happen.”
It happened to me; there were reasons that it happened to me; there weren’t options back then but there are options now. Please, please make sure you avail yourself of all those options so that you never have to lose any kind of precious data.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think. If you’ve got similar experiences or alternative experiences, I’d love to hear what those are. Here’s a link to this article out on askleo.com. Come visit. Leave a comment there. All those comments are moderated to keep the trolls out. I read every single one of them. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Until next week, I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. As always, remember be safe, have fun and don’t forget to back up. Take care.
Was that video interesting? Helpful even? Well then I could use your help. I’ve got a Patreon project under way. You’ve got an opportunity to contribute and help support askleo.com to help me do what I do: help more people, answer more questions, produce more information about technology that hopefully can help you and others use it more effectively and with more confidence. Visit Patreon.com to learn more. Among other things, you get rewards depending on the level of your patronage so check out Patreon.com/askleo to learn more and help contribute to askleo.com. Thanks.
- How do I backup my computer? Backing up your computer is critical to avoiding data loss. I’ll look at what it means and give a suggestion for average users.
- What backup program should I use? Backing up your computer’s data is critical. What program should you use? There are many, but the best is which ever one you actually will use.
- Can’t I just copy everything instead of using a backup program? It’s tempting to just use file copy tools to backup what you think you need. But if you’re not careful, you could easily miss something very important.