Thursday, November 30, 2017

Backing Up

Like most people, I am generally not great about backing up my computer data, though I am actually reasonably good about backing up the creative writing pieces I am working on, as well as the material that I scan (and then shred).  However, the backup in that case usually means it is on two external hard drives and often burned to a data DVD, but I have no effective system for storing and retrieving the data DVDs.  This is something I am working on improving, though probably it will have to be something I pay the kids to help with, since I am a bit overwhelmed with other tasks right now.

I mostly work off of external hard drives, but my Achilles' heel is to leave them running as long as the computer is on, which just puts extra wear and tear on them.  I had actually heard the weird beeping that sometimes presages a hard drive failure and decided it was time to take action.  So I unplugged that drive.  On Monday I went and bought another external hard drive.  I was hoping to score a Black Monday sale, but only the 2T and 4T drives were on sale.  I have a (probably silly) conviction that for long term storage the 1T drives are going to hold up better than the larger ones.  In any event, I bought a 1T drive and brought it home.  I started by backing up photos and the core files I've scanned lately.  Then I backed up the drive I feared was failing.  Naturally, that drive seems fine now.  But it was still worth backing it up.  That put me at pretty close to 550 GB, and I was thinking I probably should have gotten the 2T drive after all. 

Anyway, I have a set of 4 externals that hold older material (mostly old music files and stuff from my dissertation, as well as old work files that I don't really need).  These are completely off-line and usually sit in a desk drawer.  One of the 4 had been failing from time to time, so I thought I would attempt to back that one up before it gave up the ghost for good.  I couldn't simply copy the contents over, as the new drive would be 40 GB or so short.  However, I knew that there was a lot of redundancy with the music files, so I went methodically through the different artists and got rid of the duplicate albums (making sure to keep the ones with the higher bit rates).  It took quite a while, but in the end the entire contents of that drive fit onto the new drive with about 15 GB to spare!  (And it really only crashed a couple of times, so that was reassuring.) 

Finally, I tracked down a few other music files I wanted to back up on yet another hard drive (that doesn't seem to be in immediate danger of failing), though in this case it was mostly about gathering up everything by each artist (more Thelonious Monk for example).  I ended up with only 3GB left over on the 1T drive!  It is currently unplugged, as it has been working overtime these past two days, but later on I'll spend some time delving into music files that I haven't really had access to for at least 6 months to a year or longer.  I really don't know how long it would take to listen to all the music on the drive, but certainly a long time.  I probably don't ever have to buy any music ever again, though I'm sure I will occasionally.  I'm not one of those people who feels music is devalued in this era where virtually everything can be streamed, but it is true I consume and listen to music in a very different way now than when I was younger and mostly heard music on the radio and only occasionally bought cassettes and then CDs from artists that really grabbed me.

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