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How to backup regularly
How I did it: As we type, still in the process.
edit: Total time elapsed until last note 5h 18+ minutes
2300 Prep Laptop O for os clean install, backup files to USB hdd 250GB.
Laptop O will not recognise USB250, but its NIC finally wakes up.
Previously NIC was nix. USB250 plugged into Laptop M2 instead. Both belong to 1 workgroup, test transfer of first file seems okay. Last night file transfer (800MB) between M2 and desktop N took 4 hours, with both machines plugged in, wireless transfer too slow. Insert sadface here. No recent file transfer to/from N to M2.
2345 O to M2, ~1GB takes 5 minutes, files work after txfr.
0008 First hiccup. M2 can't see O's shared folders.
0043 After several restarts, M2 can see O again.
0204 Getting the last bits of data from O backed up on a thumbdrive. (Yeah, workgroup fail in the last minutes of data transfer.)
0205 Getting exciting now.
0242 The familiar Welcome screen, finally.
0245 Download and install Firefox - g'bye IE, that's the last time you'll be on this pc.
0258 Start the hunt for drivers. Of course. /sigh
0320 Updating this entry from newly-restored laptop. Yay!!!!
0418 All necessary drivers properly installed and Firefox nearly fully-configured. Time to call it a night. Er, day.
Lessons & tips: Hop online, ask some experts for their opinion regarding reliable automated backup software &/or build yourself RAID arrays.
Pro-tip: Save yourself some time and save all drivers you may need.
As an aside, I have never met anyone who enjoyed doing backups, on any scale, whether on a personal level (home PC or home network), for work (server backups or offsite mirroring), or for anything. We've become ...soft, for lack of a better word, about our data. We save megabytes or gigabytes of stuff everyday without thinking about security or redundancy - until disks get wonky, data goes corrupt, we can't get a folder to open, insert here the familiar tale of woe.
Should we stop saving things? Go ultraminimalist? I don't think it's possible at this time. Having a reliable method of backing up on multiple types of media in different locations is still one's best option.
Resources: 10 or so years of being a computer technician. I know, the shoemaker's children et cetera.... And the internet, naturally.