How do I "back that thing up?"
December 12, 2005 2:26 PM   Subscribe

What's the best and easiest way to back-up the memory on my computer.

I'm heading to Europe and let's say the unthinkable happens and my laptop is lost or stolen while it's away with me, I want to have everything safe-n-sound back home.

I'd like to have something that could even stay connected to my computer while I'm at home and update the contents of my computer every night.

Any good suggestions?
posted by bamassippi to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
What you need is an external hard drive. They connect to your laptop via USB or Firewire. I like the Maxtor brand because they have a good replacement policy.
posted by Who_Am_I at 2:44 PM on December 12, 2005

All (30+) previous AskMe questions regarding backup.
posted by blag at 2:55 PM on December 12, 2005

1) Friends don't let friends buy Maxtor, anecdotal evidence says Maxtor drives are much less reliable than Western Digital or Seagate. At least that's my experience

2) Yes, you need an external drive.
posted by oliyoung at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2005

Assuming you're backpacking (based on your previous question), you're going to want a light, mobile solution. You don't need a full backup of apps and everything, just the docs and emails you've created/received/modified on your trip. Unless you're taking a lot of digital photos, a thumb drive should have plenty of capacity. Just don't store it with your laptop, keep it in your pants pocket or something. Another possibility, assuming you've got a CD burner in your laptop - burn your stuff to CD and mail it home once a week. Finally, if you're going to have regular internet access from your laptop, look into FolderShare (free) which will keep designated folders on your laptop in sync with your desktop back home. Also see this thread ... never mind, blag beat me to it.
posted by zanni at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2005

Why such a variety of pricing on these hard drives? Are some more reliable than others? Here's that Phantom 80gig for $49 at
posted by any major dude at 3:12 PM on December 12, 2005

Friends don't let friends buy Maxtor

That's funny, in my anecdotal experience Maxtor drives are very reliable. The one dead one that I've ever come across they replaced for free even though I had absolutely no documentation on it, just the serial number (I didn't even buy the drive, I inherited it because it didn't work). At work (university IT) we have a wall of labels that came off dead WD drives. I guess you could combine our negative experiences and go Seagate.
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:36 PM on December 12, 2005

1. Concur with the "Don't touch Maxtor with a barge-pole" sentiment.
2. It's worth nothing that "memory" and "storage" aren't the same on computers and getting the correct terminology will help you get the correct answer. "Memory" is the RAM in your machine which is lost when the machine is switched off; "Storage" is the hard-disc which should be backed up regularly. Definitely get an external drive. Definitely don't get Maxtor.
posted by benzo8 at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2005

Handy Backup is a great product, incredibly cheap, and will do everything you want it to. It backs up my couldn't-live-without personal and business files into a USB memory stick each night, taking only those files I've updated over the course of the day.

I actually found it in the answer to a previous AsKMe thread on computer backup.
posted by BackwardsCity at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2005

sounds great, is there the equivalent to Handy Backup for Mac?
posted by judybxxx at 4:17 PM on December 12, 2005

Other notes:

Seagate, at least, now has a 5-year warranty on many drives. That may be worth something to you.

If money really matters, you may be able to save a bit by finding an internal hard drive (ideally on a good rebate deal) and putting it in an external enclosure, thereby putting together your own external hard drive. (That's what I recently did to back up one of my internal drives.)
posted by musicinmybrain at 9:23 PM on December 12, 2005

FWIW I have never (read: zero times) had a problem with a Western Digital drive. Even old, old old drives. The first HDD I had in '96 was a 1.5 gig WD drive, and last time I tested it, it still worked.

I have had buttloads of problems with Seagates, Maxtors, Quantums, etc. Last time we had a drive crap out in our lab Dell I specifically told the repair rep that I would not accept anything as a replacement that didn't have the WD logo on it. They actually listened (they fucking better have, third drive we had to replace within a two-month period on new systems!) The short answer to brands I guess is to buy something you trust, and hopefully don't learn to avoid a specific brand through experience. Back up in more than one place if it is really critical.

I like the idea of mailing home a CD once in a while, but it could get expensive. The FolderShare option could be a much better solution if you can count on finding an internet cafe with free access.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:51 AM on December 13, 2005

I'd suggest looking at some of the online backup solutions, e.g. Mozy
posted by Sharcho at 5:28 PM on December 13, 2005

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