What's Your Backup Strategy?

Posted by Patrick Lam on Sunday, February 23, 2020

This week’s tip: have and execute a backup strategy for your data.

Here’s a picture of Mount Ngauruhoe (which stood in for Mount Doom). I’m sharing a picture from my phone (auto-enhanced by Google Photos) because the better pictures are on the camera that I spent an hour unsuccessfully looking for, and which my spouse was really unhappy about losing.

Devices get lost or fail all the time. While truly irreplacable data is rare, some data is inconvenient or expensive to replace. Maybe you can’t re-do the assignment in time for the deadline. Every so often this happens to someone’s PhD thesis, which represents years of work. Don’t let that be you!

“Try harder” isn’t usually a great strategy. It’s more viable to develop automatic systems/habits that get the right thing done (both for backups and more generally).

In the case of your homework, some potential solutions include using the cloud (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive) or developing the habit of regularly pushing your code to a GitHub or GitLab UW repo (private if it’s an assignment, please!).

In the past, I’ve had the habits of:

  • everyday, pulling the SD card from my camera and copying files to my laptop; and
  • occasionally, uploading to my server when I had good Internet access.

But I changed cameras after my previous one went for a swim in a river, and I changed computers, so that this strategy doesn’t work anymore. I’ll have to think of a new strategy. (Having a suboptimal strategy is better than having no strategy).

P.S. the airbnb host said that the current guests found the camera and that the camera should be coming back to us next week. Whew!