Backing Up Is Hard to Do

Do yourself the most mundane – yet valuable – of favors in the new year: back up your data.

2 TB in My Hands - Portable External Hard Drives
2TB of Data in our Hands.

If a hard drive has ever failed you, you’ll know the feeling. It’s like that scene in the horror movie when the victim, in the stroke of a nanosecond, realizes the peril. At that point, the knife is through the curtain and the damage is done. It’s all over.

And you’re asking yourself, “Why didn’t she just run when she had the chance?

So why didn’t you back up your data when you had the chance?

Through five failed hard drives of our own in the last two years – some data backed up, some not — we’ve had to ask ourselves the same question too many times.

We’ve learned a thing or two through this pain. Here’s all you’d ever want to know about how we manage and back up our data while living a nomadic life and bouncing around on chicken buses.

Passengers Waiting for the Bus Repair - Marcala, Honduras
Audrey with her mobile office on her back at the border between Honduras and El Salvador

The Reality: All Hard Drives Are Dying

In a previous professional incarnation, I did consulting work at a major hard drive manufacturer in Silicon Valley. Based on what I witnessed there, I have always found it a miracle that spinning hard drives actually function at all.

And if you’ve ever seen the inside of a hard drive – a lesson in absurd fragility – you’ll understand that it’s not a matter of if the hard drive will fail, but rather when. All spinning hard drives are in the process of dying. It’s only a matter of when they decide to call it quits.

The imperative: back up your data before it’s too late.

Our Requirements for Data Backup

While data backup applies to everyone – we all have data we don’t want to lose – we realize that our special requirements are significantly more complex because of our chosen lifestyle and how we make our living. To digital nomads and travel bloggers, this will be familiar territory. To the rest of you, be very thankful you don’t have to deal with all of this.

  • We have extraordinary amounts of data (well over 3 TB of photos, videos, etc.) that we are continually adding to. We need reliable access to all of it regardless of our location.
  • We are often in places that feature slow internet connections, as in speeds that recall the dial-up era.
  • We need a data contingency plan in case theft or natural disasters take away everything on us.
  • We are often in places where shipping can be expensive and/or unreliable and where receiving electronic items from home can set off the greed of local customs officials and more paperwork than Kafka’s worst nightmare (try sending something to Lima, Peru if you don’t believe me).

How We Back Up Our Data

By no means is ours a perfect setup, but it fulfills our needs. And, of course, we welcome your suggestions.

1) Back it all up before you leave home (or when you return periodically)

Make sure you have a master copy of your data (copy of your laptop and any external hard drive data) backed up in a safe place at home. We now have a copy of our basic data on a 2 TB drive stored at a friend’s place in San Francisco. Before this, we kept backups of data on hard drives stored in Prague.

In this case, if you lose a hard drive on the road, you can have someone copy your data to another portable drive and mail it to you. We can vouch for this from experience; this saved me an early heart attack. The tricky part is to continually update your master copy with new data while on the road.

Digital Nomad, Audrey on Laptop - Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Audrey’s office for the day in Guatemala.

2) Back up your laptop with something like Time Machine

We both own MacBooks, so using Time Machine for regular backups of our laptops is a no brainer. If you have a PC and are using Microsoft Windows, you can try the native Backup Status and Restore functionality. Outside of that, there are dozens of 3rd party products, many of which come already installed on the external hard drive, that will do the trick.

For Time Machine (or a similar alternative), format an external hard drive that is larger than your computer’s hard drive (ideally, find one that is more twice the size). From there, you just need to be diligent to plug in the external hard drive regularly to keep up with your new data.

Don’t do what I did in 2009 and put it off until it was too late; my 2010 started with the loss of months of unsaved notes, drafts and other files. I then spent way too more money than I’d like to remember at three different places trying to recover the data to no avail. It still pains me to think about it. Please, please don’t do this to yourself.

3) Back up to multiple locations

It may sound like overkill to have data backed up in at least two places. After three drives died last year without warning, paranoia began to sink in.

Extra external hard drive. This essentially means saving the same data on two external hard drives and carrying this with you until you are able to transfer the data to your safe place at home. Although it could happen, the chances that both your external drives will fail at the same time is unlikely. However, theft is always a possibility so try to keep your drives in separate bags while traveling.

4) Sending new data home

We are always planning for the worst-case scenario — that all our laptops and external hard drives die or get stolen. This means that we need to keep updating the data we have stored at home with new data. We’ve found this can be tricky, time intensive and expensive. Here are some ideas on how to do this.

Periodically, copy your new data onto a smaller external hard drive (you can find these in most places nowadays) and send it home or to a person you trust. The downside: shipping can be expensive from certain parts of the world and there is never a guarantee the drive will arrive. Be sure never to send any data you don’t have backed up elsewhere.

Post Office Woman with our Package - Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Shipping DVD backups of photos from Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Burn DVDs of your data and send it home. This is cheaper than sending back external drives, but DVDs do degrade over time. So, we don’t advocate this as a reliable long-term approach.

5. Online Back-Up

This is an ideal way to secure your data. Not only is your data stored remotely, but you can have access to it as long as you have an internet connection.

When you are sitting at home in the luxury of a strong internet connection and you’re not producing gigabyte upon gigabyte of data on a daily basis, this works great. Out on the road, the reality is that this can be so slow going that it becomes impractical.

Some online storage options:

a) Cloud storage
There are many services that offer online backup for a reasonable price. These services often run in the background so you don’t even have to worry about remembering to turn it on. Although this all sounds great in theory, if you generate huge amounts of data on a regular basis, the service will probably not be able to keep up.

To put into perspective how long this type of backup takes, we’ll use Audrey’s experience with BackBlaze, a cloud storage service that runs $50/year. After almost six months of regular use with better-than-average internet connections on the road, the 300GB of data on her laptop hard drive are almost fully backed up (she has 41 more days to go). She hasn’t begun to touch the terabytes of data we need to back up from our external drives. BackBlaze provides a great service, but the large amount of data we produce makes it difficult for the service to keep up.

However, if you don’t continually generate large amounts of data, a service like BackBlaze might be the best option for you. Our suggestion is to sign up for one of these services months in advance of your departure and get a copy of your laptop hard drive (and any other data) backed up online before you set off to travel around the world.

Update: We now use Crashplan for our online storage. Read the reasons why and how we use Crashlplan.

b) Backing Up to a Remote Server
During our last trip to the U.S., we set up remote access to a hard drive stored at our friend’s house with a MobileMe account. This means that we can remotely add new data to this hard drive and we can also download data that we need from it. This sounded like the perfect set up when we tested it out in the United States.

While on the road, however, it’s not quite as ideal as we first thought. The downside is that access speeds are slow, so we have to leave our laptops on overnight for many nights in a row to upload just a day’s worth of data from our photography. However, it is great peace of mind to know we can access data from anywhere.

c) FTP Upload
Most web hosting accounts offer unlimited storage online (if your webhost doesn’t offer this, consider switching to something like HostGator). We find that FTP upload speeds tend to be faster than uploading via MobileMe and cloud storage. The downside is that you’ll need to leave your laptop on overnight for days at a time and if you are sharing your internet signal with others at a hostel you will – rightfully so – quickly draw ire for eating up the bandwidth.

Choosing a Portable External Hard Drive

Data storage takes up less space and becomes less expensive by the day. When we began traveling in 2006, finding a 200 GB portable external hard drive was cause for celebration. Today, it’s possible to get 1TB (1000 GB) for the same price or less.

We still dream of a solid state terabyte on a stick without all the moving parts of spinning drives. Until then, you can check out these external hard drives.

A Display of our External Hard Drives
What 4.8 TB of data looks like. Give names to your hard drives if you have several of them to remember which data is where.

Western Digital Passport (1 TB): This is our current external hard drive of choice. We have several of them and we find them light, easy to use and as reliable as hard drives can be. For whatever reason, Western Digital decided to make a Mac-specific drive in addition to a normal drive. We’ve tried both versions (the Mac used to be more expensive) and find that the regular drive works just fine with a Mac, provided you reformat it “Journaled” when you receive it.

Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex (1 TB): This drive is a bit heavier and bulkier than the Western Digital Passport. Our first drive failed within six months (not good). Seagate support was terrible; returning the drive under warranty was unnecessarily hassle-ridden. One customer service person almost hung up on us when she found out we were calling from outside the United States. We are now using the replacement drive – and keeping our fingers crossed.

Buffalo Technology MiniStation Metro: We have an older version of this line of external hard drives and it has lasted the longest. The external case also features a shock absorber, which is much appreciated. The prices have come down a bit; this will likely be the next drive we purchase.

And once you have your portable external hard drive of choice, consider our low tech travel hack. Pick up a few Tupperware containers to keep them protected as you bounce around on your travels.

—-
This is a long way of saying to you digital nomads, travel bloggers, photographers and everyone else at home: take advantage of the data storage tools out there and back up your data.

After all, you don’t want to end up like that silly character in the horror movie.

Enjoy this?

Then sign up for more travel wisdom & inspiration from 7+ years of traveling the world.

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t think you sound paranoid at all. We did a lot of the things you recommend and didn’t lose any data when we had our macbook pro crash on the road. Great tips!

  2. says

    I use Hostgator too and I’m happy with them, but they’ve written to me that using the “unlimited” storage for personal backup is against their rules. They noticed that I was storing a couple of GB of data and told me to stop doing that. The “unlimited” storage is only for serving webpages, not personal backup, unfortunately.
    -Francis Tapon

  3. says

    @Jill: Glad you found it useful.
    @Kim: Thanks. Good on you…one of the few who’s never lost data. Glad you also found the article helpful.
    @Francis: Thank you for your comment. Interesting that you got flagged. I know that storing personal files is technically against many hosting companies’ terms and conditions. Although we no longer back up to our hosting provider (we used to), we know others who do. We do however upload some data for our clients and we haven’t (yet) been contacted for improper use. Keeping fingers crossed that it remains that way.

  4. says

    We highly recommend CrashPlan. Patrick spent a ton of time investigating all the backup options and we chose CrashPlan because for an extra fee, you can get a “seed backup,” where they send you a hard drive, you copy everything over to the hard drive and then ship it back to them. After that, you do an online backup with them every day – which has been pretty fast even with slow internet speeds. They’re a bit pricier than other options but we’ve been really impressed because you can go online to their site and pull out any files that you need, just as if you were maneuvering around a typical Word program. The only negative is that you need to be in the U.S. to get the seed backup drive mailed to you but if you know you’re going to be in the States for a bit, it’s a good time to do it.

  5. says

    Well that’s one fine selection of hard drives!

    These are very useful tips. Me too am always worried about losing my data, especially pictures, and not only on the road. I have two copies of my backup, one safe at my dad’s place and the other one in my office. Just in case. :)

  6. says

    A friend of mine who just visited told me about how he does his backups to ensure that a hard drive failure doesn’t occur. I’m thinking of doing this for us, too.

    On a mac, you can create a RAID mirror with 2 hard drives. Basically, whenever data is stored on one hard drive, the data is copied to the other instantly (hence why it is called a mirror). This way, if one of the drives fails, you still have the data on the other. You should then periodically be able to periodically ship home one of the drives and plug in a new drive, rebuilding the RAID on the new one.

    Haven’t tried it personally, but I know this should work if you are looking for a slightly more “elegant” solution.

  7. says

    Backing up strategies isn’t just for people on the road. We recently had a house fire. The lovely server we had in the basement, the one that had the autobackups of all our computers is now a melted puddle of slag.

    Fortunately, the portable hard drive with all our years of photos was upstairs and not effected by the fire damage. Also fortunate–I had started using dropbox just a few weeks before for all my writing. Nearly 7 novels, hundreds of poems, dozens of short stories–things I could never recreate–safely in the cloud and able to be downloaded to a new computer.

    Being a belt AND suspenders person is not paranoia in this age of digital data.

    Thanks for the rundown and for all the info on portable hard drives.

    Safe travels in 2011.

    best,
    Lisa

  8. says

    We use a similar model: an original harddrive at a parent’s house, a Western Digital My Passport drive (we only have one though) which we use with Time Machine, and we are now backing up in the cloud using SugarSync.

    The harddrive inside our Mac was failing after we dropped it down some stairs but we bought a new one and Time Machine made is so easy to have it restored to exactly how it was before.

  9. says

    Well, you guys have heard my sob story already. I wish I had listened to that little voice in the back of my head that kept saying “your computer is going to die soon”… as it turned out it was my external that died. Wah! For those of you out there needing to back up simple text files the lowest tech way to get those files into the cloud is to simply email them to yourself (copying one other person just in case). So if the inertia is so strong you can´t even get yourself to download a back up program, use email at the very least!

  10. says

    Oh what great timing!!

    You just gave me the motivation to FINALLY set up my external hard drive, set up my MobileMe account and FINALLY feel a little safer about my “stuff”

  11. says

    I hate thinking about this! We have one external hard drive, and have uploaded some things to a storage site online…. but I know I haven’t been that proactive we’re probably at least a month behind on backing up data! After reading this I am going to move it up my to do list :-)

  12. says

    @Akila: Thanks. This is terrific. We looked into seeding with Amazon S3, but the cost of storage was astronomical. We’ll definitely check CrashPlan out. We are challenged on the “being in the U.S.” requirement, but hopefully we can work something out while we’re on the road.

    @Eurotrip: Fine collection of drives maybe, but I’d be glad to trade them all in for one backup solution and a 1TB USB stick.

    @Kyle: Elegant solutions always welcome. Because at this point, ours is not. I have a friend who does something similar with RAID. I’m just not sure we could swing it being on the road all the time. And there’s the issue if the whole setup gets submerged or stolen.

    RAID is also technically not for backup and versioning, whereas Time Machine is. However, I’ve heard that you can apply RAID using Time Machine. And given all the data and drives circulating in our orbit, it might make sense. Will look into this a bit more.

    @Katrina: You are quite welcome for the reminder. And thanks for the tip. I’ve used LaCie drives before. A little bulky, but I’ve had good experience.

    @Jason: Dropbox is great. We use it for storing documents and collaborating on documents. We didn’t consider it in this article because it’s not high volume data storage and backup, but we’ve been happy with it nonetheless…particularly the ability to synchronize documents on the iPhone.

    @Lisa: That is truly awful. I remember reading some marketing documents for online backup solutions a few years ago, and the case they sited is a home or office burning down.

    Fantastic, however, that you are using Dropbox and have protected your writing and documents. Losing any of that would be heartbreaking.

    @Erin: I’ve read a bit about SugarSync as well. Will look into that some more. Thanks for the tip. And we’re glad that Time Machine is doing the trick for the restore.

    @Natalia: We thought of you (and literally about 10 other friends and family who have lost data and experienced hard drive crashes this past year alone) when we worked on this.

    As for the simple text files and documents, we can recommend (as others have in the comments) something like Dropbox. It’s very easy and with the Mac at least, it seamlessly works with the file system/Finder. There are other similar services, but that’s the one we’ve been using.

    @naomi: Excellent. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    @Kirsty: A month behind isn’t so bad…depending on what happened that month. Anyhow, sounds like you have a plan at least. Just a matter of keeping up with it. Good luck.

  13. says

    @dan, you’re right, RAID is not for a backup. It’s more for insurance in case you lose a drive. If you back up to an external drive already, though, you can RAID that drive with another drive so that your backups are in 2 drives. If you’re already carrying around 2 external drives, it might be something to think about.

    That said, though, we still do what you do, although I wish that I would have RAIDed drives when I find myself copying a ton of files over to a hard drive to leave with someone. Or I could learn to be patient, but that sounds hard.

  14. says

    I think there’s no harm if you want to back up your files in as many hard drives as you want. It’s just the idea of being sure and secure about the important things you want keep, save and prevent from having virus or simply from just losing it. But, I must say, you really are a little “paranoid” on your files, for you to keep it in more than one external hard drives. Then again, I commend you still. It must’ve been “now or never” to you with those files.

  15. says

    Love knowing how you guys keep your data safe…one of my big headaches though is the process of making sure that the backups are identical…how do you even remotely keep track of all of that considering you have two laptops churning out information too, (oh, and my drive that failed this year was a Seagate… :( probably coincidence, but I don’t plan to buy one again if you had one fail at 6 months!).

  16. says

    Hello Daniel,
    Very useful post! Ever since I discovered two years ago that having a backup is not a luxury but a necessity, I meticulously backup regularly. I especially like the online backups and mailing DVD’s back home options – but since I am paranoid ever since I lost data, I do both. Who knows if the online server crashes or the mail gets lost. Regarding WD’s Mac hard drive, I felt the same, the Mac version of the drive just has an added “Apple tax.” Thanks for the article! :-)
    Priyank

  17. says

    I’ve been using Carbonite for online backup and have not had any problems so far.

    The issue really with travel is the amount of movement your laptop goes thru. Hard drives were really meant to be stationary. Bouncing around buses or being tossed around an airport ‘help’ speed up the failure process. Have multiple backup and AUTOMATE it. People are well intentioned but forget. I use SyncBackSE to back up to an external drive every night, without me having to remember.

  18. says

    What a great article for travelers! I’ve photos on two occasions, once when my laptop was stolen while living in Mexico (lost two years worth of travel photos), and another time when a hard drive shattered (luckily only a month worth of photos). Now I’m a nazi about backing up all my data online as well as on DVDs. Picasa is my go to photo backup solution.

  19. says

    As I mentioned on Facebook, my husband lost some of his data in an online database because he didn’t think it needed to be backed up. Fortunately he was able to use Google to recover most of it. Hostgator only made the last day of backup available online (which didn’t help) although he might have gotten more information if he contacted support.

    Backup is very hard. My husband is an IT professional, and he’s never satisfied with the options. We’ve tried numerous things over the years. Time Machine is pretty good unless you use File Vault, which screws some things up. After a scare when my blog posts disappeared, I started automatically backing it up daily and mailing a copy to my Yahoo mail account (effectively using their cloud).

  20. says

    You really have a great idea there when it comes to protecting your well-loved and important files. It think what is brilliant about what you did is that you will have to secure all of them from any retrieval or get them expose to web viruses. Through what you did, you can have a relief of knowing where it is located etc. Also, great idea for using those external hard drives because those are really effective and trusted.

  21. says

    One solution that the article forgot to mention is attack the CAUSE. When we travel, we all have a tendency to take worthless videos and photos. One way to avoid having 1 TB to backup is to go through your data and ruthlessly delete as much as you can BEFORE you initiate the backup.

    Ask yourself: Will I really need 5 similar pics of this tower? Is that video worth putting on YouTube?

    Eventually, you’ll get good enough to not even bother recording things since you know it won’t come across well.

    Attack the SOURCE of your data fountain. You’ll have fewer headaches.

    FT

  22. Pete De Ritter says

    I don’t deal with the volume of info you do but when my daughter and I travel I upload photos every night to Picassa then email or call my wife who downloads them to her computer and then backs them up to an external hard drive. I figure 4 storage locations should be enough unless the big electro-magnetic pulse happens. (But then, that’s a whole different level of paranoia.)

  23. says

    @Kyle: You’re right about RAID. Now I’m just scratching my head about how to configure this. Still working on a backup strategy that’s a little closer to ideal.

    I’m not so patient either, if that makes you feel any better.

    @TTA: No harm in backing up to multiple drives. However, wasted space and time is a concern. I am paranoid, but given my experience with hard drives, my paranoia is sufficiently justified. Like I indicated above, I’m still looking for the ideal backup solution.

    @Shannon: Keeping things synchronized is the magic nut to crack and I’m afraid to say I haven’t yet cracked it. If you are not dealing with multiple TB of data, Kyle’s suggestion of RAIDing a backup to multiple drives is probably the way to go.

    I’ll follow-up this piece with another when I answer some additional questions that have popped up. The nomadic data backup process is one I’m determined to perfect.

    @Priyank: Thank you. Am glad you found it useful.

    Apple tax — I don’t like the tax, but I do like the name you’ve given it.

    @brian: I’ve done some reading and have read some not-so-flattering reviews of Carbonite. But if it works for you, that’s great.

    Regarding the movement and bouncing around, it doesn’t help. However, there are some drives that have survived our time through Central Asia, China, India and Nepal. And some of those have done better than newly purchased drives that we’ve put into service in Latin America.

    Now that I think about it, heat in combination with movement may be the worst of all. And the faster spinning drives (and the heat they generate) make it that much worse.

    Thanks for the tip on SyncBackSE.

    @Kyle (Morgan): Got two Kyle’s on this thread. Glad you found the article useful.

    A shattered hard drive. Now that sounds like a story.

    Glad Picasa works for you. Our biggest issue (independent of which photo storage service provider we use) is bandwidth.

    In any event, you and your data be safe!

    @Jennifer: Thank you for your husband’s ultimate and professional stamp of doubt and dissatisfaction with backup options. Like I indicated in some other comments, data backup (and trying to understand it and perfect how one does it) is an ongoing process.

    For our blog (runs on WordPress) we use the WP-DBManager to make regularly scheduled backups of the database.

    @Francis: Fair enough. We delete the garbage. But then we get a purchase request for a particular type of image that we didn’t think was particularly special and we almost deleted. And in those cases, we’re glad we weren’t so ruthless.

    @Gleb: Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for the tips, but with the volume of data we generate, our backup options need to be efficient and they need to scale.

    By the way, we would be interested to hear if BackBlaze is considering (or has) a seeding option (e.g., sending a 1TB hard drive to seed the backup).

    @Pete: The big electro-magnetic pulse. I love it. As grateful as I am for all the comments and advice this discussion generated, it’s your comment that made me laugh the most.

  24. Bruce says

    Yup, SyncBackSE. I use it to sync critical data to an encrypted thumb key, and all other data to separate external hard drives. And/or when practical to a server located elsewhere. The main idea of having at least two complete backups in two separate locations.

    However, what I would really like is a portable encrpyted ethernet hard drive that would allow my wife and I to share the same files from one drive. Then sync the incremental data back to each laptop. Then from time to time backup the ethernet hard drive to another hard drive and ship it back and start with a new increment to the laptops. Any ideas.

  25. says

    @Bruce: Another vote for SyncBackSE (for Windows users, if I understand correctly).

    I’m not certain I understand entirely what you are looking for. But a couple of thoughts come to mind that might get you closer to the ultimate solution:

    1) DropBox: Although I’m not certain there’s ability to encrypt on a file/directory level, the sharing of files from one synchronized external source is what we use DropBox for. However, it’s free only up to 2GB, after which there are subscription fees.
    2) I imagine you are familiar with Duplicity:
    http://duplicity.nongnu.org/

    But I’m not certain it can be set up to do all the incremental sync’ing back to your laptops.
    3) CrashPlan – when you mention shipping back hard drives, I’m thinking that you are looking for a backup service that does “seeding” of large amounts of data via a shipped external hard drive. CrashPlan does this. Amazon S3 also offers this, but at a much higher price than CrashPlan.

  26. Carolyn says

    While 20 months on the road, I used 2 external backup USB drives. I know it was overkill, but the day came when both my laptop crashed while and one of the backup drives died. it was not a pleasant day. Another time the other USB drive has its USB input connector fall off, so the drive was rendered useless until i could get a new case for it and the right tools…not an immediate thing depending where you are..as you know you won’t always be. Although the manufacturer of those USB drives states shock proof, I don’t think these things are built for being thrown in a backpack, tho cushioned well, and roughed around. I resorted to a bunch of USB sticks (a lot of them to make up for the storage, and space).

  27. says

    @Carolyn: Multiple external backup drives — doesn’t sound like overkill to us. When drives crash and you have a backup, it’s inconvenient, but it’s nothing like the pain of a complete loss.

    No hard drive is completely or sufficiently shock-proof. That’s like saying water-resistant. No one can tell exactly what will kill a hard drive, but shock-proof or not, continual bouncing around and exposure to the elements is surely not good.

    I could not imagine backing up all of our data to USB thumb drives. Even at their largest, I think we would have dozens of them.

    I’m looking forward to large volume, inexpensive solid state drives. The day is coming.

  28. says

    This is awesome. I’m not a digital nomad, but I am a professional travel writer and often travel up to five weeks at a time on assignment. I have had that dreaded hard drive crash in which I lost all content from my latest back-up, so now when on the road, I back up all my images to jump drive, DVD, Flickr and then keep them on the memory card until I absolutely need space (I carry three 16GB cards, so it’s usually not an issue). However, I’ve been wanting a more reliable method than those, so these tips were very helpful! We gave my sister the Buffalo model you mentioned for her RTW trip, and it seemed like a pretty solid option. Maybe I’ll just swipe hers now that she’s back…

  29. says

    @Kristin: Particularly when you are dealing with photos (and large volumes of images), I cannot imagine dealing with USB sticks and jump drives. Having two 1TB hard drives to double back-up should do the trick for local backup, particularly if you expect to return to civilization fairly often.

    More strategically, we are going to recommend online backup. We’ve begun using CrashPlan because they offer a seed service (whereby you can copy all of your data onto a hard drive that CrashPlan sends to you) to get your online backup jump started. As we begin to use it more intensively, we’ll be posting updates on how the service works well for people on the go. So far — in terms of technology, interface, and customer service — we really like what we see.

  30. says

    Hi —

    Heard about your travels and website from a friend in Dhaka. My wife and I live in the Seattle area and are making a documentary film about an artist in Bangladesh. Data transfer and backup is a major challenge for us. Have you tried LaCie Rugged external hard drives? We’ve used them with no complaints shipping HD film files to and fro.

    Best regards,

    Leonard Hill

  31. says

    @Leonard: I believe CrashPlan actually uses LaCie rugged external drives for their online backup “seeding” plans. Outside of that, we haven’t used LaCie. Our challenge is that we are on the road virtually all the time. So shipping hard drives to anywhere (besides becoming expensive) is just not practical. That’s why I’m hoping we can develop a system around online backup to the cloud.

  32. says

    Thanks for sharing this! I myself am paranoid about losing data. I have just started my website and started writing too and it’s really helpfult to back-up data. I had my hard drive fail a couple of years ago and I’m still gutted about all the photos I lost! I was able to save others on dvd but still a lot of notes and photos were not recovered! I love this article! Thanks for the tips.. BTW, I absolutely love your website! THis is probably my superfavorite! :)

  33. says

    @Tin: Data backup is critical…most of us learn that (often many times) the hard way. I feel your pain, I know your pain.

    Thank you for the wonderful compliment. Really glad to hear that you are enjoying our site…and that it’s your favorite!

  34. says

    Hi Darren,
    I particularly agree with Natalia’s tip to use e-mail as a fast and cheap way to store information. In fact, in extreme conditions like the ones you have while traveling in exotic locations, e-mail storage, even at a very low connection speed and signal, can be the first resort to save information against losing it for any crazy reason you can imagine of.
    Of course, the fact that you used to be a Silicon Valley expert yourself leaves little room for extra consultation on computer backup issues. Also that it is easy to give tips of advice especially when you don’t know firsthand how exactly it feels to carry your portable office on your back in the middle of a jungle. So I just want to wish you good luck by all means!

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *