Back in the days when I made backups of individual files on floppy diskettes, I had learned what I called Murphy’s Law of Backups. This was: "You will always need one more backup diskette than you have." This taught me the importance of backing up my computer.
Sometimes that rule applied to backing up a drive onto a bunch of diskettes and running out of diskettes. Other times, it applied to actually using the backup diskette itself, instead of copying the data to the hard drive and then using the file. This was the guaranteed way to make the same dumb mistake with the backup copy ;).
In today’s world, there is one tool on which I rely for backing up individual files, and that’s Karen Kenworthy’s Replicator program. At my house, it backs up the data files that are on my notebook, my desktop, and my wife’s desktop to different machines. Most of these end up on my Linux computer that functions as a file backup site and a web development platform.
If you don’t have another computer on which to back up, or even if you do — so you can create a backup that is not always connected to your network and the power lines — get a cheap external drive. Using an external drive and Replicator makes a great backup solution. After you back up, disconnect the external drive and put it in the closet.
KarenWare.com is Karen Kenworthy’s web site and the home of the many Visual Basic programs she has created, including Replicator. Karen’s programs are free for personal, non-commercial use — otherwise, they require the purchase of a license, which is very reasonably priced ($30 for the CDROM including shipping and the including a license for use on one computer).
Replicator is designed to copy files and directories — to another directory on the same hard drive partition, to a directory on another hard drive partition or another hard drive or another computer. It even checks and updates only if the files have changed. I have mine set to do the backups during the middle of the night — Replicator runs automatically. If it has any difficulties, it logs the problem and then completes its scheduled tasks.
Check out Replicator for fast, easy backup of your data files. It may save you from disaster. More likely, it will save you from a temporary brain freeze that allows you to delete a file. It’s nice to have last night’s backup when you just wiped out the original.