Thank cloud.

Yesterday afternoon my HP told me that my hard drive failed. “Why are you telling me you have failed?” I wondered, “shouldn’t you just die?”

As it turns out, yes. It appears to be a virus that basically makes it impossible to access files. My first virus since 1996 I think. No idea how it happened.

In any event, I have my entire My Documents folder in a 100GB Dropbox account, all my addresses and calendar in both Plaxo and Google Calendar (oh how I wish they worked together) and all my Yale email in Gmail. So I lost pretty much zero, and in a couple of hours was back up and running on a spare laptop.

I am in love with the cloud.

Right now techno-geeks are sitting there reading this thinking: “Dropbox? Plaxo? What is this, 2009. He should really be using Gweezlewhatsit.”

If so, please do tell. But note that if your definition of a user-friendly program is that it only uses ASCII characters and you have to have a minor in computer science to understand it, my take up probability would be low.

(Oh, and if you about to say “You should really buy a Mac,” save it because we are all a little hateful of you, only a little out of jealousy.)

15 thoughts on “Thank cloud.

  1. Try git – it’s nearly as user friendly as dropbox but has version control:
    github.com (online backup)
    tortoisegit (graphical interface, but true techies use the command line)

  2. Dropbox is great but a My Documents folder? I would be very curious to know how you keep everything organized in there, and I’m really hoping that you don’t just have loose do-files and article revisions floating around in one giant garbage bin.

  3. second git – ProfHacker had a post on version control here:
    http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/a-gentle-introduction-to-version-control/23064
    and on git here:
    http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/github-for-mac/37502
    the second one is Mac focused, but this is one of the cases where the software for Windows is at least as good – tortoise is great, as is smartgit. The version control is a big plus in my mind, but it’s a little more involved then dropbox.

    Also, you should, of course, be using linux ;-)

  4. You *should* switch to a Mac. Either way though you should consider Backblaze. It’s just $5 a month for unlimited online backup. It’s set up once (easily) and forget and it’ll make sure that everything you should have a backup of is safely backed up in the cloud, no matter its file size. Well worth the tiny investment.

  5. The best backup solution is one that works. Working has two parts: your very recent data is backed up (so it needs to be automatic, because *no-one* remembers to run a manual backup script more than about three times), and you can actually restore from backup when your computer gets covered in coffee/attacked by a virus/stolen by thieves/etc.

    At present, I’m very happy with backblaze, and in my role as informal family tech support guy I’ve installed it on many PCs around the world! So far it Just Works, both for silent, automatic background send-my-data-to-the-cloud, and because it has a nifty web-based way of retrieving individual files. Note though that if you want to restore many Gigabytes then you’ll need to shell out more money (on top of the $5 per month or whatever it is) to have them FedEx you a DVD or hard drive with your data on it. As a bonus, they also published full specs and build instructions for their highly-inexpensive mass storage hardware – http://blog.backblaze.com/2011/07/20/petabytes-on-a-budget-v2-0revealing-more-secrets/

  6. Glad to hear that even though your files were corrupted on your computer that the ones still sitting in dropbox were safe. I had always worried about that.

  7. I think plaxo syncs with gmail for $5 a month – I’m not using it though so let us know whether this is what you’ve been looking for.

  8. I also like CrashPlan a lot (so I’m fourthing the suggestion, really happy that others have the same recommendation to make). In fact, I use the “family plan” on my own, including with my office computer (an old IBM running XP), my main desktop (a Mac mini), and my partner’s laptop (a MacBook). It’s frequently saved my bacon because the file I needed from one computer wasn’t in my Dropbox folder.
    I do have the 50GB plan on Dropbox but that’s really for specific files, including on my iOS devices.
    As for switching to Mac, you may still consider it. It’s rather easy to do, at this point (especially with cloud computing) and Macs are actually priced more reasonably than people might realize, especially when you factor in support, resale value, durability, etc. But, of course, you might not be in the market for a new computer.

  9. Crashplan. Get the family unlimited plan and back up all the computers in the house. Backblaze is also great, but Crashplan is a better deal for multiple computers.

    (Best case would also have you using some kind of versioned backup at home as well as regularly cloned backup, but cloud backup is a good start.)

  10. You might like backupify.com offers backup even for your cloud stuff, if you want to make sure user error, hacking, etc doesn’t affect you as you move off of a PC.

  11. I’m surprised no one suggested Linux. I live in Tanzania and can’t afford a Mac. Every time someone borrows my USB stick, I get it back with a virus. Keeping virus definitions up to date is such a nightmare here. I just run Ubuntu and don’t worry about it. The safety of running a Mac OS, but free.