Friday 5 September 2008

Backup Strategies for your Ham Station

We all do backups, right? I've been guilty of not backing up enough. Our valuable information, logs, programs, browser favourites, all manner of configurations, photos and all the valuable material we sometimes take for granted. We never expect a crash or hard drive failure. My stint in the IT field left me with some lasting impressions of poor practices when it comes to backing up software. Redundancy is key here. A poor practice is having your backups only in one place, like the hamshack or a file cabinet somewhere in the home. Even having a copy of your backups at the office makes it difficult to restore a system or files in the event your only backup is there.

My backup strategies are pretty simple but effective. Invest in a large USB thumb drive - one can fit an enormous amount of information on these little devices - your complete log book and browser favourites and lots of other stuff. Use a file compression program and you can fit even more info on these thumb drives. Buy good quality CDs or DVDs and religiously backup to 'glass'. Software is available that you set and forget - it will automatically backup to your DVD drive at a pre-determined time. CDs and DVDs are cheap enough to change once a week or more. I always make a copy of my backup and spirit it away to another location. External USB hard disks are still vulnerable to crashing and offer no real backup solution unless that infomation is backed up to other media or off premises.

This brings me to a real neat piece of software that does remote backups. It uses the internet to send an encrypted backup of your files to a location based in the U.S. It's called MozyHome Remote Backup. I use the 'free' version and find that it's enough to backup my station logs, blog articles, browser favourites and just about anything else. It first does a complete backup of the files you choose then every day at your pre-determined time it will do a backup of only the changed files so backup times are very short. It does it all in the background and keeps a running log of any errors and successful backups. Mozy is a set-it-and-forget-it designed backup solution. I highly recommend it for any ham station setup. You can add multiple computers to the same account. The free version allows 2GB of storage and works with Windows or Mac. MozyHome website

Many of us have more than one computer and our browser of choice happens to be Firefox. This browser is ultimately configurable with add-ons. One add-on that syncs bookmarks on multiple computers is Foxmarks. My laptop, main ham computer and another work computer all get seamessly synced up whenever I add a bookmark on any of the computers. All 3 systems have the same bookmarks. One can also configure so the home bookmarks don't get transferred to the work computer. You configure it the way you want it. If any of my browsers or computers have a good crash and I do loose all bookmarks and browser configurations I just add Foxmarks on the new installation of Firefox, (or IE ) type in my password and wait for the bookmarks to sync up. Couldn't be easier; and it's free, and it works. Highly recommended and now available for IE. Read more at the Foxmarks website.


Anonymous said...


Great blog, good post and sound advice.

I have used Google Docs (the spreadsheet) for shortwave listening logs. I have receivers next to different computers in different rooms. By using Google Docs I can bring up my log on any computer. Backup is not an issue either.

I have used Yahoo briefcase for internet backups of specific files (radio logs). Yahoo does not give you a lot of space but it is enough for critical files.

As well, I use Google Notebook in Firefox for collecting parts of web pages. It is like an online bookmarker, scrap book and notebook. Useful for collecting information on specific topics you are researching. As it is online then it is accessible from different computers.


Bob VE3MPG said...

Good stuff too Alan. Those are all great apps to keep your stuff organized and off site for safekeeping and they are all free. I've used Google Notebook but not nearly as much as I should to keep things organized.