The Importance of Backups: A First-Hand Experience

It is one of the worst things to see pop up on your computer as a freelancer traveling: “The drive is corrupted.”

I’m sitting on the bed in our hotel in Granada after a brief power outage. This isn’t that unusual in Nicaragua or Central America, so I’m trying to be patient while waiting for the WiFi to kick back in. I decide this is a good time to save photos from my memory card onto my external hard drive, but an unwelcome message pops up on my screen…

importance of backups

That’s never good. I have at least 20,000 photos on that drive, plus plenty of other important files. I can’t lose all of those files and photos. This happened before, in December when I was in the hospital, and it cost me 75 euros and took several weeks to recover my drive.

Now I’m panicking because it seems the drive is crapping out on me again. We are in Granada, Nicaragua without even the option of our recovery guy in Germany.

My life is on that hard drive. Every photographic travel memory. Every freelance article I’ve ever written. Everything I need to run my websites and earn a living.

Crash Plan to the Rescue

Luckily, after the incident in December, Andy and I signed up for an account with Crash Plan.

Crash Plan is a back-up system that saves all the files on your computer. Because losing everything would be devastating.

I knew 99% of my files were safe. They were already backed up, safe and sound. But a few hundred photos from the first week of our trip to Panama were in question. I stupidly deleted them from my memory card after transferring them onto the external hard drive, and even though Crash Plan backs up regularly, I couldn’t remember if the drive had been connected long enough to get backed up the last time I used it.

What made it all the more panicky was that the WiFi in our hotel had gone out and was only coming back in fits and starts. Not enough to write the post I was originally going to publish today, and definitely not enough to check Crash Plan’s backup.

importance of backups

Granada, Nicaragua: the scene of my meltdown

So of course I freaked out. And cried and lost all patience with the WiFi situation. Then we moved into the courtyard, and Andy and I were finally able to connect to the internet again. He logged into our Crash Plan account, and we started comparing files.

To my relief, everything was safe. I didn’t lose any photos from the Panama Canal or canopy bridge tour in Boquete. The ruins of colonial forts and the toucans from the animal rescue center were all there, too.

Because Crash Plan backs up almost continuously, I didn’t actually need to have my external drive plugged in for long in order for it to get backed up.

Crash Plan saved my sanity.

Another case for backups

A couple days later, while in Leon, I couldn’t get my laptop to stay connected to the WiFi. I could connect to the network, but within seconds, it would disconnect for no apparent reason. I restarted the computer, and Andy tried adjusting some settings, and eventually it was working again.

But instead of clicking on “restore previous session” when he opened the browser, Andy simply tested things out by opening another site. Which cleared out my previous session, where I had several tabs open that I knew I’d never remember how to find again.

Again, panic ensued. Like most people I know, I keep a thousand tabs open. Tabs for things I wanted to look at, tabs for stuff I didn’t want to forget. Bookmarks don’t work, but keeping open the tabs is how I keep track of things. And they were all gone!

Crash Plan (and Andy) to the rescue again

And again, Crash Plan to the rescue. It turns out one of the features saves not only files like pictures, but old versions of files. Files like browser history. So Andy hunted in Google and figured out how to restore an old version in Crash Plan. He was able to restore the last set of websites I had open. Not necessarily the most important feature, but one I’m glad to have.


CrashPlan Continuous Backup

Backups are super important

It’s so important to have a good back-up system to safeguard your digital life. Especially if you make your living with that digital material.

Crash Plan has been incredibly helpful to me after just a couple of months. It took forever to do the initial back-up since it was starting from scratch, but now it backs up my laptop almost constantly without me having to do a thing.

Whether you’re a freelancer like me who has important files for work or you want a good way to keep your photos and memories backed up, I highly recommend Crash Plan. We have a family plan that includes 2-10 computers for $150 a year, or you can get an individual plan for $60 a year. It’s money well worth spending to protect our files and photos, and I can relax knowing I won’t lose everything.

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importance of backups
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