In Which I Admit I Probably Need Anxiety Medication

In Which I Admit I Probably Need Anxiety Medication

by Kerry Scott on 21 June 2011

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When we talked about what you’d grab if your house was on fire last week, I was shocked at how many of you said you’d grab a computer, hard drive, flash drive, etc.


I don’t believe I’d ever be able to sleep if I only had my stuff on a piece of equipment that was even in the same town as I am.  I have stuff on three hard drives in my house, AND an online backup service that is located far away from me (and costs a whopping $5/month).  Some stuff is on Dropbox too.  I understand why people don’t want to put everything in the cloud and nothing else, but why don’t you put stuff there AND on equipment you own?  If it’s all in your house with you, and a tornado/fire/hurricane/plane crash/flood/who-knows-what hits your house, what then?

Am I the only Nervous Nellie who needs a Plan A, B, C, and D in order to sleep at night?

Photo by woodlywonderworks

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

JJT June 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Nope – you’re not the only one, I’m with you!
I’ve got several backup-backups in place too (of course I’m an IT & Security guy) including a mirrored drive I keep at my office many miles away, multiple DVD and online backups.

But even with all of the possible tools one can use now, I can see how people might get overwhelmed and put their data backup planning off.

Dropbox just had another security issue yesterday. Some online unlimited plans have gone away. DVDs and USB drives *will* fail eventually.
In my years in technology, I’ve seen data lost in every way possible. (Note to technology gods: I am not asking for a new way to be shown to me.)

Should I trust cloud services? What do I do with all these DVDs? How much space do I need for all this video? Did that software really back everything up? Did I delete something by mistake before I backed up?

It all adds up in time, money and technology confusion. The outcome of confusion is often procrastination. But it does have to be done, people.


Lynn Palermo June 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

I think most of us think it will never happen to us…until in does!


Valerie June 21, 2011 at 11:54 am

I didn’t respond partly because I couldn’t think of *one* thing that I would grab – I have at least five. I think most people might have chosen a computer or flash drive for this reason: it is not just one item, it is many.

That said, I still need to work on my backups. Although I use dropbox, it doesn’t have room for everything. The online trees I have are all public with privacy protection: I need to maintain an up to date private file with all information on it. I have an external hard, but it’s right next to my computer. I keep meaning to buy and extra one, store it at my sister’s and rotate them out once a month. And still I have some scanned files saved multiple places that aren’t up to par or some documents that aren’t scanned at all.

I’ve always had sufficient backups before, but I’m sure there will come a day when I regret what extra steps I could have taken, but didn’t.


kristin June 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm

where is the $5 a month service!!! I worry too but haven’t figured out where to put it. help me so i can figure out something else to grab. maybe put the photos into albums and grab them?


Kerry Scott June 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I use Backblaze (affiliate link), and it’s $5/month (I think they have a cheaper plan if you pay for a year in advance, but I prefer the monthly plan). I used Carbonite for years, but I had a few problems and wasn’t happy with the customer service, so I finally shopped around. I did a few free trials, and Backblaze was by far the easiest to use.

Nothing is foolproof, but I like having at least a few different ways to take care of my stuff.


Susan Tiner June 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I am a nervous nellie too. I use carbonite on both Windows and Mac and also back up to an external drive. The remote backup service is definitely worth the money.


Laurie Mahieu June 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Agree 100%. I have copies at home, DVDs of the data at work, and I also backup of my database and scanned photos and documents on SugarSync. Would never consider only keeping my data on a single PC. Nope, in a fire I’d be grabbing all the items in my heritage hutch (great-great grandma’s photo album) and great grandma’s clock and pictures. The data is all safe!


Daniel Hoffman June 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm

This conversation has been a wake up call for me to do more than just back up on the computer itself and a flash drive. I am thinking about keeping a flash drive in the safe deposit box–and backing it up once a month or so. I also am considering Backblaze–sounds just right. A question: Is the media and information I put on my tree on Ancestry permanent? Or, if I decide not to renew my subscription, does the information go off? I also have some stuff, not a lot, on Footnote. Thanks for this posting.


JJT June 22, 2011 at 8:44 am

When it comes to online services and data retention, it is very painful but you have to check each site’s Terms of Use, Acceptable Use and Privacy policies individually. And those policies can change, as the Twitpic service just did. (See: )

I have not read Ancestry’s policy in awhile, but if I remember correctly it seemed reasonable about what/if they keep and how long they hold onto something after you delete data.
Oddly enough, Ancestry’s attempt at a social media site on has a terrible retention policy – while their policy states you retain ownership of any data or photos, they basically get unrevokable license to reuse it forever and even sub-license it!
See Item 5.1 on this page for reference:

As for a flash drive in safe deposit box: that’s a start. But do suggest you use at least use 3 different flash drives in rotation. That’s not perfect either, but a failed thumb drive will mean you still have 2 others to rely on.


Rondina Muncy June 23, 2011 at 7:36 am

I have an HP computer that was one of the last to have a built-in slot for a “Personal Media Drive.” (Read: hard drive, but try explaining it to security at the airport.) The computer memory is 2 TB. The TWO media drives are 1.5 TB. I keep one in the safe deposit box and one in the computer (but not connected unless I’m actually backing up). With my now tiny new 1928 bungalow, the “study” is two steps from the bed, so I can grab and go. The key to having one safely off-site is to actually switch them out on a regular basis. At least once a week. How do you pay for 100 GBs of storage in a cloud? And if you crash, how many days will it take for them to restore your data?


Kerry Scott June 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

I haven’t crashed/restored since I started using Backblaze, but I had to do it four (!) times when I had Carbonite. It took about a day each time.

I don’t remember what the storage limit was with Carbonite (if any), but Backblaze offers unlimited backup for the plan I have (which is $5/month). I don’t have 100 GB of stuff though–maybe 1/5 of that.


Daniel Hoffman June 23, 2011 at 5:36 pm

As I said a couple of days ago, I was so mentally impressed by this discussion thread that I developed a backup strategy. Today I implemented phase one which was signing up at Kerry’s suggestion to Backblaze. Yay! The next phase will be taking a flash drive to the safe deposit box and starting to rotate every month or so. Now I can go back to the joys of genealogy with more peace of mind. Thanks, Kerry. And thanks to the others who have offered their views.


JL June 24, 2011 at 11:32 pm

This is a repetition of what I’ve already said on my blog, but a really simple ‘plan’ to me is to have two external HD’s. Rotate them monthly and always take the most up-to-date one with you when you leave the house. I strap mine around my waist in a bellybag. If you have to put them in and out of safety deposit boxes the inconvenience might become an excuse not to.

External hard-drives are very inexpensive, about $75 each from Amazon for 600GB. External HD’s are said to be reliable for 3 years. I have a couple others going on 8.

I back up everything in My Documents, My Music, My Pictures and My Videos plus bookmarks, web browser and email profiles through Syncback which takes only seconds per day. It will copy your new files, clean out the old versions, or keep the old ones too, depending on your preference.

I also do online backup just in case something goes awry with me-out-and-about and my house at the same time. I think flash-drives are so flaky I don’t depend on them for anything.


Free Gen Resources June 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm

My genealogy files and picture folders get backed up to 2 different online services every time I update them. I have a third service that I use to do a weekly backup of important files. I also burn updated copies of my ever-expanding GEDCOM file every 6 months and give a copy to my mom and my mother-in-law.


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