I was watching some move on TV in which one of the characters is an author struggling to finish his novel under a strict deadline from a publisher. Naturally you see him typing it away on his laptop in a starbucks, a local bar, and etc. It’s a comedy with bunch of situational, and physical gags so while I’m watching this, I’m thinking “oh, boy – this dude better be doing nightly backups”.
Needless to say, 3 scenes later the dude’s laptop lands in a fireplace, catches on fire, and then in an attempt to rescue it the writer somehow manages to toss it out the window… Directly into the path of a big truck. You guessed it – the dipshit did not back up, so instead of loosing one evening of work, now his whole novel is gone.
Anyone who puts in many months of work into something, and only keeps a single copy on a single machine is not only stupid but also borderline insane. The chances that your laptop will catch on fire are relatively low (unless you are using a Sony battery). But the chances of dropping it or slamming it into something while you carry it, and damaging your hard drive are quite high. Even if you are super careful, disks go bad by themselves all the time. It’s not a question of if – it’s a question of when will your drive fail on you.
Personally I use a remote Subversion repository for my important projects, and generally try to keep several copies on different media. This way even if my house spontaneously blows up destroying all the computers I own, I will still have my thesis, and important projects safely stored at a remote location. But you don’t need a repository for this kind of stuff – I saw people who would just email their nightly work to themselves and then had a nice dated, searchable archive accessible from any place in the world via webmail.
Don’t be like that writer in the movie. Back it up!
[tags]backup, backing up, subversion, email, work, saving your work, data retention[/tags]