Are you Disaster Proof? Backups and Bootable Copies

As a Internet Marketer my life revolves around my computers. I do pretty much everything except cash checks through them (hopefully that will change soon as well) so its pretty critical that they are always working well and that just in case I have a backup.

Lets be very clear here: I have never had a really good backup plan in place. Up till just a few months ago I was in a situation where if my main laptop harddrive failed I would be out of business and probably in big trouble with my clients. As I have gained more clients I realized that a lot of information on my hard drives is very critical to my ability to make an income. After reading John Gruber of Daring Fireball’s experience with a hard drive failure I decided to create a back up system.

First of all I bought a really big 2TB external drive from Amazon by Western Digital. (You can now, just 4 months later, get a 3TB drive for what I got my 2TB drive for.) Then I decided I would use a 2 system setup for ensuring I was covered from almost any kind of issue:
#1 I setup Time Machine to a 1.7 TB partition on the external drive. Since Time Machine does hourly backups and eventually uses all the space it is given this part gives me iterative backups going back many months. This means that I have access to really old versions of documents that I may have since deleted on purpose but can still go back and access. With Time Machine I can backup not only my laptop hard drive but also my other external hard drives where I store music and movie files for performance and archival purposes.
#2 I setup SuperDuper to a 300GB partition on the Western Digital because my laptop drives total space is 250GB. I will let SuperDuper explain what it is that they do:

Our tagline, Heroic System Recovery for Mere Mortals, tries to sum up the whole idea: SuperDuper! is designed to provide excellent failover support for the all-too-common case where things fail in a pretty catastrophic way, such as when a drive fails, or your system becomes unbootable. We do this by quickly and efficiently creating a fully bootable copy of your source drive. Perhaps more importantly, recovery is near immediate, even if the original drive is completely unusable, because you can start up from your backup and continue working.

via Shirt Pocket Watch – Time’s Arrow Redux.

#3 I have a Dropbox account where I put all my work files and folders. This gives me automatic backups to Dropbox’s remote servers so even if I havent run a backup in a while I can always access the files there. Dropbox also has a ton of useful features beyond backups and its Free to use. I have a 50GB account with them as I work with large image files, this costs me $10 per month.

This means that I now have interative backups in case I need to access an old file and I have a bootable copy of my laptop drive. Time Machine covers me in case I save the wrong version, accidentally delete, or otherwise lose a file I need to have. SuperDuper covers me in case there is a catastrophic failure of my laptop drive and I can immediately restore and get back to work.

The next step will be getting another harddrive which gets a monthly backup and storing that offsite somewhere. The reality is that my career is based on these really technical and fragile devices so I need to be as proactive about protecting the data they contain as possible.

Here is a great wikipedia page on Hard Drives with a nice rundown of how quickly the technology has advanced:

  • Driven by areal density doubling every two to four years since their invention, HDDs have changed in many ways, a few highlights include:
  • Capacity per HDD increasing from 3.75 megabytes to greater than 1 terabyte, a greater than 270-thousand-to-1 improvement.
  • Size of HDD decreasing from 87.9 cubic feet (a double wide refrigerator) to 0.002 cubic feet (2½-inch form factor, a pack of cards), a greater than 44-thousand-to-1 improvement.
  • Price decreasing from about $15,000 per megabyte to less than $0.0001 per megabyte ($100/1 terabyte), a greater than 150-million-to-1 improvement.[5]
  • Average access time decreasing from greater than 0.1 second to a few thousandths of a second, a greater than 40-to-1 improvement.
  • Market application expanding from general purpose computers to most computing applications including consumer applications.

via Hard disk drive – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What is your backup plan?

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader. AKA: Kindle in the Browser

If you haven’t tried reading a book on the Kindle consider yourself a Luddite. I have read on the original and 2nd Kindle from Amazon, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Mac version and have enjoyed each medium as much as reading a real book. The reason reading on the Kindle is so effective is that Amazon has done a great job of focusing on one thing: reading a book. The interface is intuitive and drives you into reading mode where you can get just as stuck as with a real book.

Recently Amazon announced the Kindle Cloud Reader (KCR) which should just be called Kindle in Browser or KIB. In as layman terms as I can put this Amazon has created a website that mimiks the Kindle device and various applications. Currently it only works on Safari on iPad, Safari desktop, and Chrome cause its using really advanced web programming stuff that Internet Explorer, Firefox, and the iPhone cannot yet handle. The Chrome version is what I use cause I am a smarty pants. The cool thing is that you can install some software into Chrome that allows you to read your books even when your computer doesn’t have online access. This process takes 5 seconds to complete and is all done through the KIB.

Reading in the KIB is very nice with large fonts and little UI clutter. You use your left and right arrow keys to move forward and backward and through your book. While you can leave bookmarks on various pages you cannot highlight or note as you can in any of the other Kindle variations. I only use those features rarely and have never gone back to review any highlights or notes I have made. Disclaimer: I am a bad student.

There is a bunch of hoopla and commotion over this new version of Kindle in various tech publications and nerd blogs:

I think Amazon had this in the works for a long time — a web-based Kindle reader has been around for a while, and it makes sense to improve it in these ways. But surely Apple’s new App Store rules for paid content have motivated Amazon to push harder in this direction.

via Daring Fireball Linked List: Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader.

You can count me as an Apple fanboi but I have to say that this policy is not a good one and will only serve to slow growth of the App Store market. I agree with having to share the revenue of any App sold via the App Store as Apple is providing the marketplace and delivery of the initial app and subsequent updates. Apple also polices the App Store to ensure that some level of quality exists in the App’s sold their. However this policy of getting 30% of anything sold via a companies App is excessive and unfair.

What do you think?

Be Wary of FREE

Free isnt always Free
Trust Us
I like free things just like anyone else, but in my 34 years of living on this planet I have learned that with Free there is always a cost. Anytime a business offers something for free there should be a financial incentive for them to do so. A Lawyer offers a free consultation knowing that a percentage of those consults will become customers. A car wash offers free gas with purchase because they have offset the costs.

Be Aware

These are obvious examples of where the business is incentivising potential customers with a Free offer so that they can grow their business. Other times it can be more subversive and more difficult to identify where the business is getting a benefit.
This morning as I perused the daily deluge of email newsletters for online advertising I saw this “New [PPC Management Company] tool to map keywords for performance”. The article talks about Wordstream’s new service which analyses your Adwords account and tells you all sorts of neat things about it. Seeing as how I like Free and also have many AdWords accounts that can always use more analysis I went to the [PPC Management Company] site to learn more.

The first question in my head is: “How will [PPC Management Company] be able to see what is happening in my Adwords account?” This was quickly answered when they asked for my Adwords username and password. Naturally I am not going to be giving that info over to anyone without some type of contract in place to keep them from going to town on my account and credit cards. In order to get the Free analysis you have to give them the keys to your business. Big red flag moment.


The lesson learned here is to always be interested in Free offers but be just as wary of what you have to give up. In this case while you might get a free analysis of your PPC campaign you are also completely opening up your business to severe damages. If you need analysis of your business I suggest talking with a person rather than blindly handing over the keys and hoping for the best.


As a footnote here the WordStream page that asks for your very sensitive Adwords account information is not even HTTPS. This means that you are sending a 3rd party access to your Adwords account with zero encryption so anyone who wants to watch the packets from this page can also gain access to your Adwords account.

Since [PPC Management Company] is an Adwords certified partner, as indicated all over their website, I would think that Google would have a problem with this practice. What do you think about Free offers like this one?