Despite the fact that I don’t have time to write a regular column, I do have several handy bits of backup-related news to share, so I’m going to direct you to some other sources of useful information.
The last time I talked about rotating backup media was in 2005, as part of the general discussion of tape backups. The most complex backup rotation schedule (at least of those I was surveying) is called the Tower of Hanoi.
A company called BackupCheckup has now created a web-based Tower of Hanoi Backup Scheduling Assistant. A friendly member of their staff pointed it out to me in an e-mail recently. Here’s what the website says about the service:
The Tower of Hanoi method of tape rotation provides for archiving an effective number of backups. It also gives the maximum ability to go back over time with a limited number of tape sets. The disadvantage is that it is one of the more complex rotation methods to keep track of.
Backup Checkup’s Tower of Hanoi scheduling assistant will keep track of which tapes to use next and will send you a friendly email reminder on the date the backup is to be run. This greatly simplifies the task of tracking which tapes to use. You can also come back here to determine which set of tapes to use when you need to restore data.
It’s a free service, so if you use removable media like tape, REV drives, or even flash drives and keep getting confused about which tape goes with what day’s backup, you might want to check it out.
To any backup vendors who might be reading this: I’m happy to investigate and mention your product if you approach me politely and it’s appropriate for my readership (small offices and home-based businesses). I’d much rather a direct approach than a quasi-spam posting in the comments, though I will let those comments stand if they refer to legitimate backup products.
For those of you who use external drives or online backup services and don’t need a rotation schedule, here are a couple of other things that have come down the pike recently.
Scott Hanselman accidentally deleted all his father’s e-mail and set up a family backup policy to prevent a recurrence. His account, including hand drawings of the new setup, is here.
Mac OSX Hints has an article with a script for making fast backups to an ISO image (which is the thing you need to burn a CD). The author of the script, “Eldino,” has an engaging article about why he created it and what it does, starting out with
I bring my iBook everywhere, and I store on its drive 80% of my important data, since I use it for studying, working, scripting, doing projects for university, listening to music, downloading stuff, browsing, printing nice articles found on the Web to PDFs, etc. Scared by the fact that hard drives fail when you least expect it—and trust me, they still fail if you (like me) love your hardware more than your girlfriend.
If you’re a Mac user and want to be able to back up your drive to an image, check out the article.
So that’s it for today. I hope you find something useful in at least one of those articles. Now it’s time for me to go earn a living.