Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Backing Up the Backups
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Backing Up the Backups

Harley L. Sachs - June 14th, 2010
Backing Up the Backups/ Three times is the charm, just in case...
A sure path to the psychiatrist’s office is the nightmare of anyone who experienced a hard drive crash. It’s that ubiquitous computer thing again. We shouldn’t be surprised, but we tend to take machines for granted. Hard drives are mechanical. If you’ve ever seen the innards of one, it’s a disk, even a stack of disks, spinning at perhaps 5,500 rpm. A little oscillating arm tracks back and forth over the surface of the spinning disk reading the information on the magnetic surface. The problem is, the pickup arm is so close to the spinning surface that a few microns of cigarette smoke can interfere with it.
Eventually, like the wheels of our long dead baby stroller, the bearings wear out and the spinning disk wobbles. The pickup arm crashes against the drive and it’s all over. Eventually this will happen to all hard drives. You may, as happened to Express editor Robert Downes, lose (almost) everything. The scream could be heard all the way to the UP.
The fact is, no digital, magnetic media is archival. By archival, I mean, can it last 100 years? Data I saved in 1983 on 5-inch floppy disks is no longer accessible unless it was transferred to 3 1/4 inch floppies and the new computers don’t even have those smaller drives. Now it’s all flash (or thumb) drives and portable hard drives storing as much as a tetrabyte. I guess a tetrabyte is a 100 gigabyles, and a gigabyte is a 100 megabytes. Those of us old enough to remember those early floppy disks may recall they held about one megabyte. A 100 meg zip disk held as much as 100 of those floppies and they don’t even make zip disks anymore.

BACKING UP
For insurance, it is always wise to back up every file to a flash drive and periodically burn those files to a CD or DVD disk. CD and DVD disks are not magnetic. Though they may scratch or the surface may deteriorate, a chance encounter with a refrigerator magnet won’t hurt them.
There are also new, automatic back-up strategies, such as the McIntosh Time Machine, which periodically backs-up your hard drive to another drive connected by a USB cable. If the hard drive in your computer crashes, you simply download the lost information from your auxiliary drive -- including all of your photos and applications.
Flash drives that plug into USB ports keep getting cheaper. Sometimes the small ones holding one gigabyte of data are given away as freebies. How much can one hold? My old #1 is almost full, but it has all of my roughly 1,600 digital manuscript files, files that in hard copy fill 12 file drawers. Of course, the digital files only go back to 1983 when I bought my first of a long procession of computers. The hard copies go back about 70 years. More than once I have had to return to the paper copies and retype them into the computer, but the essential point is: they were not lost.
Ultimately, the only truly archival records of data are printed on paper. Even the cheap, yellow foolscap manuscripts I typed on as a teenager are still intact. Now, besides printing out everything, usually on the backs of recycled junk mail, I back up data three times: on a portable hard drive (a mere 60 gigabytes!) plus two flash drives.

GET ORGANIZED
Of course, with so many files, you must have a system so you can find the stuff again. Don’t name anything simply “letter” or “story.” If you don’t have the organizational skills to keep track of your files, you don’t have to wait for a hard drive crash to lose them. It’s like the dumb secretary who put everything in a single folder called “miscellaneous.” Go look.
Flash drives are cheap. When I first bought a 5-inch floppy disk I had to pay $4 for one. Now a one megabyte flash drive holding the data of a hundred of those costs about as much. With data storage so cheap, not backing up everything at least once is… well, you decide: dumb? careless? foolish? lazy? cheap? naïve? overconfident? In too big a hurry to hit the “save as” button? Or like those multiple choice tests we professors used to give: “all of the above.”

Visit the web site www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs where you can listen to two stories, read a third, read reviews, and find links to the publishers of my books.

 
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