1 + 2 Backup Procedure

Most people lose their data at some moment. Notebooks get stolen, hard disks crash and online storage goes out of business or access is gone for some other unexpected reason. Most people think they do not have important data. But you never know how dear these photos were to you until they are gone.

That is why backup matters. Unfortunately, many people realise this only when it is too late. In this document, I describe a basic backup method, which keeps your data save including extreme situations.

Hard disk crash and theft are the biggest hazards that cause data loss. Any sound backup should protect you from a disk crash, but when protecting against theft, you need an offsite backup. You need a backup that a burglar can not steal from you. The offsite backup also protects your data in the rare case that your house burns down or the computers are drowned. This offsite backup could be an online backup, but I am an advocate of keeping your data away from prying eyes and keep it on a physical disk somewhere.

The 1 + 2 Disks Method

You need three hard disks of identical size. Plan ahead with the size a bit. I plan my backups with a horizon of five years or so. I really do not want to face a situation where my data no longer fits on my three disks next year or so.

The three disks have the following functions:

The data disk can be your internal hard disk in your computer. Or it can be an external disk where you store all the important stuff. The red backup disk is your first backup. The blue backup disk is your second backup. One of those disks is at home with your data. The second disk will be at some other place. Like in a drawer at work, under the bed of your mother or in the cupboard of some friend. Make sure you put a label on the disk. Since they are identical, this really helps.

Now you will backup your data daily. Daily is important as it makes sure you automate the task. The computer needs to run the backup automatically without you taking action. A manual backup procedure is a backup procedure that is postponed all too often.

Once a month, you take your backup disk to the place of the second backup disk. You swap the two disks and take the second disk home. You attach it again and have the computer catch up with the backup. Automatically.

In my case, I swap the disks on the first Monday of any month. Please note, that I take the disk from home to the remote site, then I swap and then I return home with a single disk. I make sure, that the three disks are never at the same spot. That way they can not be lost / destroyed at the same moment.

With this backup procedure, a hard disk crash will cost you a single day worth of data at most. Your house burning down will cost you one month of data at most. That sounds like much, but given the rarity of the event, that is acceptable loss.

Now there are more secure backup procedures and policies that make sure you never lose a single byte. But they are more complicated and more expensive. The one outlined above is dead simple and works for ordinary people as well.