International Verify your Backups Day 9/9

I know we already have a lot of holidays and special occasions in September but I think we need another one. Let’s make September 9th, International Verify your Backups Day. On 9/9 it seems like a good idea to make sure that at least 99% of the files you’ve been backing up can be recovered, if not why back things up?

I am certain that many of us are sporadically dutiful in using backup software, compressing a bunch of files and copying them to a CD or syncing with a backup server. All too often this labor is lost when we can’t actually recover or make sense of what we recover when we need to (and there will always be a time when you need to recover some data). Why not spend a few minutes making sure that all of that effort isn’t in vain? Try and recover some of your old files and make sure they’re file-liciously fresh and usable!

Yes, for some of you, this means that September 8th will be International Backup Day – but that’s OK, at least you’re backing up your valuable data.

How do I backup? I work on three different systems (with four different operating systems between them, sigh) and try to keep most of my working files in one main directory that’s the same on each. I routinely compress and back up this directory into one large file and make the date of the backup part of the file name (as in Then, I copy this file to another hard disk as well as burn this file to a CD, label it with a Sharpie marker and store it in my home or office (alternating between the two). I also have specific configuration files for each system I work on and I back those up too with a combination of small scripts (to run a copy, merge and compress sequence) and then either keep the backup on the particular system in a directory called “backup”, SFTP to a server or burn those to CD less frequently. I usually do not worry about backing up whole applications since in most cases it’s easier to re-installl an application than manage a huge backup file. Much less frequently, I use a full disk backup application (like Retrospect, which I really don’t care for so much) and keep the giant backup file on an external 250GB hard disk.

For other content like all my music files, I just do a full copy to an external drive (I have three external drives, all at least 250GB in size) and rotate among them.

I have tried many other systems, like using version control, automated .Mac-like backup services, and any number of personal or large-scale sync applications (more on them in a later post), but none seem to have the simplicity of what I’m using now.
How often do you backup your data? How do you do it?