The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
I have written often about the need for backups. Indeed, backups are important for any computer user; however, I believe they are doubly important for anyone who records information on a computer and wishes to preserve that information for years, perhaps for decades. That description includes genealogists, historians, and many, many more people who care about their data.
If you are making a backup now, it is not enough! Having only one backup is an invitation for disaster. Anyone who has a single backup stored in one location is only marginally better protected than the person with no backups at all.
If you make backups to a hard drive or a jump drive or a CD-ROM disk and you store those backups near the protected computer, you may be protected against simple hardware failures, but you have zero protection from Mother Nature or from in-home disasters. A hurricane, a tornado, a fire, or even a burst water pipe can ruin your backup at the same time that it ruins your computer. Then what do you do?
Every computer user needs to have MULTIPLE backups, and they should store them in MULTIPLE locations. Yes, you should make a backup and store it near your computer simply because it is convenient to do so. If you need to restore files after a simple hardware or software problem, it will be easy to retrieve that backup and start the restore process.
However, I will submit that everyone needs a SECOND BACKUP that is stored "off site." This process could be as simple as making a second copy of your backup, taking it to the office, and storing it in a desk drawer. Perhaps you prefer to store the second backup at a relative's house.
Of course, there is some risk that those nearby locations could be damaged or destroyed by the same widespread disaster that destroys your computer, such as a hurricane. I feel much more comfortable when my second backup is stored thousands of miles away, such as an online backup stored on some company's servers in a remote data center. The odds of my computer, my primary backup, and my distant secondary backup being destroyed at the same time are infinitesimal. Of course, it never hurts to have a third, a fourth, or even a fifth backup, all stored at different locations.
Several commercial firms now provide online backup services at low cost or, in some cases, for free.
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