Why I’ve (Mostly) Stopped Worrying About Data Loss

Something occurred to me the other day: I hardly ever worry about data loss on Capulet’s computers anymore. Why? Despite having no coherent backup plan, 90% of our work is safe. It lives out there, in the magic Internet cloud:

  • The majority of our documents are in Google Docs.
  • For other documents, we’ve probably emailed them to each other, ourselves or our clients.
  • We use Gmail for email.
  • We use Blinksale for invoicing, Harvest for time-tracking and Google Calendar for scheduling.

The same goes for the personal side, where 95% of our photos are in Flickr, and all of my MP3s are backed up to MP3Tunes.com. Personal email is on Gmail, too.

I’d like to claim responsibility for this distributed strategy, but it’s totally accidental. The only thing I really worry about is historical data from before, say, 2005. We’ve got an external hard drive for that, but I will eventually back it up to a remote location as well.

It’s a bit ironic that I write this post on the day that our online storage client comes out of the private beta closet.


  1. An important part of any backup plan is being able to quickly and easily restore data. You’ve got to be sure that it works! Any thoughts on that?

  2. Last year I had the hard drive on my MacBook die. I’d made a hard drive clone recently, and after replacing it with another, the only things missing from the clone were about 10 photos, which I re-downloaded from Flickr. Stuff like email was all online, so I was back working in a few minutes.

    Now I have Apple’s Time Machine backing up wirelessly to a drive in my closet from our laptops, but I do have a lot of large audio and video files that aren’t regularly backed up offsite, which makes me nervous. I used to take CDs or DVDs to the office regularly, and swap external drives between there and home, but being on medical leave has kept that from happening. I have to sort that out soon.

  3. db – i too endeavor to live a distributed life… not tied to any machine with all my data on the cloud. finance, admin, etc i’ve done a good job with.

    that being said i’ve got a TB of photographic data i don’t know what to do with!

  4. Hi Darren,

    You’ve covered stage one of data loss, which is dealing with life catastrophes (viruses, disk crashes, coffee spills, burlary, fire, loss of PC).

    Stage two is where is my stuff and whats a copy and whats an original.

    Stage three is where is that X. Where X is a piece of content I used to have on service W and then I moved to service Z.

    PutPlace is dealing with life loss now, but we want to deal with the other problems as well.

  5. Mack: I’m not sure that, in my scenario, restoring my data is vital. I just need to be able find copies of the stuff I need today. And then I’ll just look in the usual buckets–Gmail, Google Docs, Mp3Tunes, Flickr, etc. Because my originals are distributed, I can’t imagine requiring a wholesale restoration of them.

    Joe: Personally, I don’t really care about originals vs. copies. Why? Because if they’re copies, what’s the difference? I do care about document versioning, but Google Docs usually handles this.

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