Today I am going to tell you all about an important lesson that I learned (again) yesterday. Not so much because I am proud that I escaped disaster, but more so because I want remind you all the importance of "backing up" your computer files that are important to you. It is something that most of us do far less than we intend to do and because of that, we cause ourselves a lot of unneeded anguish.
I'll start at the beginning . . .
A couple of days ago when I was working on my new video, I had an issue with my computer. When I was moving the video clips into the movie editing software file, it kept hanging up and stalling out my computer. I thought this was just because of the large size of the files, but I did think it unusual because I have a very up to date system with large resources because I do so much graphic work.
After several hang-ups I decided to re-start it. It took probably about 20 minutes to start up, which told me that something was definitely wrong. Of course, Keith wasn't here that day but I called him to see what he though. He told me to check the connection of the drives, as one time I finally did get it to reboot and one drive (my storage drive – which contained all my daily work and patterns and videos) was not showing at all. I was a bit upset, but not yet panicked. After all- I just did a full backup a couple weeks ago.
I played with the wires and got it to go. Crisis abated.
I finished my video and got it uploaded. I also finished my pattern yesterday morning for the blue mask project that is in the process of being published at Tole Town (I will talk about that tomorrow). Keith had told me to once again back up my new work, and I told him I would, and intended to do so "when I caught up". I still had an ad that I needed to create and THEN I would do it.
So I began working on the ad yesterday afternoon. I create it in Photoshop and it is many layers, which initially creates a large file. Again – things started hanging up on my computer. All of a sudden, nothing on my computer would work. I had to re-start again and yet another time it took over 20 minutes to boot. When it came back, the storage drive (3TB) was not showing.
By this time Keith was home and helped me out. Long story short, after several unsuccessful attempts at trying the drive, we were finally able to get it to read in Kieth's computer. After much "coaxing" and me talking nice to it, it worked long enough for us to transfer the files that I worked on since the last back to Keith's computer. Just as he finished copying my last files, it died completely.
May it rest in peace.
I feel very fortunate on many levels. Because my last backup was recent (less than two weeks ago) there wouldn't have been "too much" stuff lost if I would not have been able to recover it. But there WERE three new painting patterns and a video and an ad that I have been working many, many hours on. While the video is uploaded already, and the PDF patterns are up on my servers or have been sent to others (which means I can retrieve copies from my Gmail) all the files to create the patterns (pictures, InDesign files, Illustrator files, etc.) would be lost. That's about two solid weeks of very hard work. Once again – "Lesson Learned" (AGAIN!)
My point for today's post is to remind you all to BACK UP your files. Do it often and do it completely. Even if you do 'little backups' to a folder on another drive in between your FULL backups, chances are you will be OK.
Some of you may not realize that many computers consis of several different physical drives. That is a good thing because when one drive dies, you only lose the information on that drive (unless a huge disaster fries your entire system out – which is far less likely to happen). By keeping information copies on different drives – even if it is on the same computer – you are protecting yourself from a lot of headaches. You need to be certain that you copy on a different PHYSICAL drive though, as drives can be PARTITIONED into several smaller 'drive letters'. If you don't understand this, ask your tech girl or guy and they will explain it better.
Keith and I back up to an EXTERNAL drive as well as an internal drive on his computer. We do a FULL backup on the external drive every few weeks and the internal backup more often. When we are done backing up to the external drive, we tuck it safely away in our closet. This saves wear and tear on it and lessens the likelihood of its failure.
Keith also has 6 internal bays for 'hot-swapping' drives on his case. This allows him to plug in a drive, just like you would a camera or jump stick for easy backing up.
Here is a photo fo the internal 3TB drive and the external 2TB drives we use for our backups:
We are lucky we have them.
I am very lucky that I was able to retrieve my information before the drive completely died. I would have been a bit upset if those files would have been lost. Even though I had the finished patterns, I want and need the files for other things or if changes are necessary.
I ordered myself a new internal 4TB hard drive from NCIX last night. It was only about $130 and well worth the security. I will add it into my computer, and use it for my internal backup. I will still do external backups every few weeks, but by having my files copied on both drives internally and being able to easily drag and drop each file to make backup copies, hopefully I will keep up with things better than I have done in the past. It certainly won't hurt.
Many people have mentioned (and will mention) that I need to use a 'cloud server' to back up. While that is well and good, with our connection here it is clumsy and unreliable – especially with the large amount of information we have changing every day on our computers. When I first purchased my last full computer several years ago (since then I have changed everything out piece by piece and upgraded) I was given a cloud service with it. It constantly ran in the background and was constantly updating because I was always working on my computer. It was never able to 'keep up' with my work that I did and really slowed down my computer and made a mess of things. Besides that – I know of more than one person who had used cloud services for backups and lost everything anyway. To me (at this point) they are just unreliable.
I am not what one would call 'stupid' when it comes to computers, but I do feel that this way is much better. It is faster, easier and cleaner to get into the habit of copying new work into the backup. Even if it is just the file that I worked on for that day.
I cannot stress the importance of regularly backing up your files. A week doesn't go by when I don't have a customer coming to me to ask for their previously ordered patterns to be re-sent (I do that for them) because of computer failures. While I never mind helping when I can, I usually include a stern warning to them to keep their patterns in another safe place – usually off of their computer – so that they always have them. It is a hard learned lesson.
In other news for us, we also decided to upgrade our printer and Keith and I purchased two of these beautiful HP X451dw printers!
NCIX (a huge online computer store here in Canada) had them on sale for $179.00 each. They are usually much more than that (I think they show over $700) and we have seen them for around $500 but at that price, we couldn't pass it up. (the product page is here: HP X451DW) The price was so good, we bought two so we have a backup. We also ordered an ink system similar to what we have for our PIXMA printer. I will certainly be blogging about that in the future.
It may seem like a big jump, but our little company is growing by leaps and bounds. This printer uses pigment ink, which is more durable and supposed to be a better quality. Since I am printing so many full color painting patterns (the last two had over 30 color photos in each of them!) I want my customers to have something that will be the best quality possible. Besides that, it is much quicker than my other printer and is rated with a duty cycle of 50,000 pages per month. I don't know if the PIXMA was rated for that in its' LIFETIME!
We hope only to get bigger, and with that growth comes changes. We need to find more efficient and quality ways to do things in order to be able to grow. Sometimes it means investing in ourselves and business. By doing that we all benefit.
I hope you all take heed and think about backing up your files more often. While I dodged the bullet this time, I may not be so lucky the next. Once again – I learned a very valuable lesson that I want to share in hopes of saving you some grief later on.
I wish you all a wonderful Thursday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"