Friday, June 7, 2013

Email: the backup plan

As I sat by the computer thinking that my blog post should be the 9th, it occurred to me that the schedule had changed.  So I checked the email sent by Liane a few months ago, and alas, my blog date is the 7th.  I could not think of anything to blog about even as I marveled at how information stored via email could be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection.  And then it struck me, that “AHA” moment, why don’t I blog about email as the backup plan?

Several years ago my husband in his enthusiasm to see West Indies cricket team play (and ultimately lose) went to a web site that contained a virus and crashed my computer.  At that time, I didn’t have any backup system.  Fortunately I had email.  I often worked on my laptop, my work computer and my home computer and constantly emailed myself my files, especially my word documents.  When the computer crashed, I was in the middle of a manuscript with a deadline and I was frantic.  Then I remembered I had emailed an earlier version to myself.  I had my backup—my email.

Of course I lost other files in the process and by the time my hard drive was restored the computer ran slowly as if it was bogged down by the after effects of the virus.  It reminded me of a person who suffered a stroke:  even when they recovered, the after effects lingered.  So eventually I got a new laptop: a convertible tablet/laptop.  And since I wasn’t going to trust my important files to chance, I had a backup in the clouds.  Which was a good thing, because my husband again in his quest to see West Indies play (and again lose) went to another live streaming cricket website and once more crashed my computer.

I had my files saved in the clouds, but only up to 2 Gb.   The problem:  I exceeded the 2 Gb.  Again I was frantic.  But, I had email.  I still email my manuscripts and other files that I’m working with to myself on a regular basis.  This allows me to pull them up on my smart phone and read or edit while I’m away from home.  I searched my email, and there were my latest manuscripts.  Once again I was saved by email.

So while there are many backup plans: flash drives, external hard drives, the clouds, you name it, simply emailing yourself your files (that is those small enough to be emailed) can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.  So whether or not I have an automatic backup system I will continue to use email as quasi backup system.
What about you, do you ever use email as a way of backing up your files?

20 comments:

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, this post made me laugh so hard. I'm glad I'm not a cricket fan; I hear my neighbours howling in pain at 2 AM (depending on which part of the globe the matches are being played) every time we get an ass-whupping--which is all the time now, it seems. The glory days are so over.

E-mail backups have saved my life! A PowerPoint presentation on a flash drive failed me in front of a class, but the copy I had e-mailed to myself played just fine. I also have cloud and flash drive backups but constantly e-mail files to myself for insurance. Good post!

Julie Luek said...

I opened a Dropbox account for this reason and if I fill 'er up, I'll probably buy more space.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've used email this way, although most of the time these days I have an up to date backup on a data stick

William Doonan said...

I'm paranoid, so when I'm working on a new project, I e-mail it to myself all the time. I also use Carbonite, which is automatic.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Huh! I read this and thought "they stay losing!" lol! As Liane said, the glory days are long over.

But you're so right. I try to email things to myself regularly and I also use Dropbox and jump drives.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Eugenia and Liane, I ask my husband constantly why he still watches West Indies play. It seems every time they offer a ray of hope by beating the worst ranked team in the world, they come back and disappoint. I guess it's like the Chicago Cubs fans for the many losing years. They still kept a ray of hope alive.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Julie, I had my back up in the clouds at one point but anything over 2 gigs you had to pay for. It was also only free for the first two years so now my account has been frozen. I like free. So is drop box free or a paid service? Do they have a size limit?

Jewel Amethyst said...

Charles and William, I tend to use your methods too. I have 16 gb jump drive that I often save my work for portability and I have an external hard drive. However I only remember to back up my stuff on the external portable hard drive when my computer has been affected...sad. I also lose jump drives, or get them damaged by keeping them with my keys so often that I have to have the email as a back up for that back up.

Jewel Amethyst said...

BTW Liane and Eugenia, have you ever seen the dvd "Fire and Brimstone"? It is a documentary of the West Indies cricket team from when they were a joke and referred to as the Calypso criketers for their partying (kinda like now) to when they dominated world cricket. It is a very interesting documentary that I watched at least four times.

Liane Spicer said...

Nope, haven't seen it, Jewel. I'll go look. Vivian Richards and the other surviving greats must be so disgusted.

Jewel Amethyst said...

You really should see it. It is enough to inspire people into thinking that the glory days of WI cricket could return again. It might be just a matter of discipline.

G. B. Miller said...

I used to early on, then stopped when I had switched to using Norton for anti-virus.

Now I use a flash drive to back everything up (as well as print copies), but I think that using e-mail may be a good idea to revisit.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Yes, I have seen it a couple times. It's fabulous! Liane rush out to get it! How great we were!

I cannot tell you how proud and excited I used to be to see Lloyd and then later, Vivi, walk out on the field but then a certain person from one of the bigger islands, ahem, was made captain before his time and a rot set in.

Also psychologically speaking I think Vivi and those from before had strong reasons and incentives to win - to prove themselves racially and post -colonially so to speak. And those reasons aren't really there anymore. I think that also plays into the doldrums we have been in.

Eugenia O'Neal said...

Yes, I have seen it a couple times. It's fabulous! Liane rush out to get it! How great we were!

I cannot tell you how proud and excited I used to be to see Lloyd and then later, Vivi, walk out on the field but then a certain person from one of the bigger islands, ahem, was made captain before his time and a rot set in.

Also psychologically speaking I think Vivi and those from before had strong reasons and incentives to win - to prove themselves racially and post -colonially so to speak. And those reasons aren't really there anymore. I think that also plays into the doldrums we have been in.

Liane Spicer said...

Eugenia, absolutely. Brian Lara wasn't ready, probably never would have been. His talents lay elsewhere. And true too that the motivation of the older cricketers isn't there anymore. It's all about the money now.

Captain Black said...

I'm still staggered by the number of people I encounter that don't have a proper backup regime in place. E-mail is a good and simple way to keep important files safe, but I don't consider it to be a proper backup solution, for a number of reasons:

* It's a bit unwieldy as it involves many manual operations. It's therefore difficult, if not impossible, to automate.

* E-mail is not a secure system, unless you manually encrypt or password protect your data.

* Unless you're very diligent, it will be hard to remember exactly where you stored things, i.e. which e-mail messages have which attached files.

On my web site, there's an article about computer backups. I recommend you read it and pay particular attention to the last section, entitled "so now I'm safe?".

Jewel Amethyst said...

G.B, the only problem I have with flash drives is the rate at which I lose or damage them. I once had some important data that I kept on a flash drive with intentions to transfer the files to my work computer. Unfortunately I got distracted and forgot about it for a few weeks until I needed it. When I tried to open the flash drive, it was unreadable. Apparently it had been broken and that's when I learned if a flash drive is broken, there is no (simple) way to recover the data. Needless to say, I had to redo all the tedious experiments to generate the data.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Liane, Eugenia, just like writing, anything done without passion would never be done well. The older West Indies cricketers had a passion for the game. In fact, the passion was widespread throughout the countries. And not only the cricketers, but most West Indians had that passion. I remember when cricket was on the radio everybody had a transistor radio to their ears. Every pasture, field, beach, open space had cricket stumps and kids playing cricket with a wind ball or some make shift ball with rubber bands. It was pervasive. But now when I go back to the Caribbean that enthusiasm is not really there.

As for Lara, being a good cricketer does not qualify one to be a good captain/leader.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Captain, point well taken. I will definitely check out that page. But for now, every file that I am working on (don't have anything top secret as yet) I email to myself for two purposes: 1. it allows me to retrieve it and work on any computer or my phone; and 2. it serves as a temporary back up.

As a long term back up it is most likely not effective. I have had files that I emailed to myself using a work email and after I've left that job I had no access to the servers. But short term for access anywhere, as long as the files are relatively small and I don't need the security of Fort Knox, I think email is a relatively good temporary back up.

Ruby said...

Using email as your backup plan is an old way of backing up files aside from the hard drives. Though it is still being used nowadays, the backup system has evolved into cloud-storage system, which is the more convenient way of backing up. Have you used cloud backup aside from your email?
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