Always make a backup for your files

I know that I made a same thread before, but now it's gone since it was posted on Blog section. About 6 hours ago, I tried to turn on my PC after I came back to home. But it didn't respond except for a brief moment; several fans were rotating for 0.1 second whenever I press the power button. I tried everything to fix my computer, and it was hard to figure out what is the problem of this 7-years, dust-covered old man. I did clean my PC with vacuum cleaner regularly, mind you. :)

 

I replaced mainboard battery, reconnected every cable lines of power supply, checked the power supply if there's a problem with it, detached every hardwares (including a mainboard from the case) and inspected them if there are visible issues like false condensers, with no success. So I was pretty much given up and reinstalled all of hardwares that I detached, planning to buy a new one by using my sister's PC. Then, this bastard turned on when I was handling mainboard's 24-pin connector. It was pretty sensitive, and it turned off if I touch the wrong side. Anyway, I turned on my PC and, as I expected, my faithful CHKDSK started to inspect my HDD since it was stressed by unstable power connection. I was hoping that no data files were harmed from the issue, and I'm happy to say that my data files are saved.

 

I believe that my PC may not work tomorrow with this condition. So, If you're reading this thread, go make a backup for your important files, just like I'm doing right now.

 

P.S.: Come to think of it, it was a really dumb idea to handle 24-pin cable when the power supply was turned on.

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On 7/24/2017 at 5:44 PM, antares031 said:

 I did clean my PC with vacuum cleaner regularly, mind you. :)

that doesn't sound safe for the PC :P .

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17 minutes ago, antares031 said:

Come to think of it, it was a really dumb idea to handle 24-pin cable when the power supply was turned on.

It is....better avoid a shocking experience :P

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How bothersome it is to set up some sort of automatic backup that would be performed once in a while? Maybe like on a few selected folders or something. I can't imagine doing it by hand.

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8 minutes ago, Memfis said:

How bothersome it is to set up some sort of automatic backup that would be performed once in a while?

 

If you're talking about online storage service, I still prefer to use storage units, like external HDD or USB, to keep my backup files. I used CD and DVD to keep my backup files when I was young, and I don't mind to make backup units by hand ever since.

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1 hour ago, antares031 said:

I did clean my PC with vacuum cleaner regularly, mind you. :)

 

I once cleaned all the data from a HDD with a vacuum cleaner ; )

No joke...   many many years ago I removed some dust from the inside of a machine. While I was at it I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to clean off the dust from the top of a Harddrive with the tip of the vacuum cleaner. 

I somehow must have temporarily forgotten that HDDs are not sealed airtight...     The inside of the HDD was not so happy about my cleaning idea....  ; )

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1 hour ago, antares031 said:

I know that I made a same thread before, but now it's gone since it was posted on Blog section.

Blogs is now Status Updates, which means that post still exists.

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This thread reminded me to back up the recent changes I made to my Doom level library onto my portable HDD.

 

Thank you, OP. <3

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With all the moving parts. vacuum cleaners generate static electricity, which could easily zap the sensitive components inside your PC. That's why there is canned "air".

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Never use a vacuum, dust it out with that air in a can or blowing it out. I already backed up the more valuable stuff onto my external drive and I update its contents occasionally.

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I've taken to backing up changes to projects or newly downloaded files daily. Every so often, my system will start making god-awful sounds and my power supply will scream and scream until I turn the computer off. I don't know the source of the noise, but it scares me. 

Edited by Megalyth
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Wow, I never had any problems using a vacuum cleaner. This discussion scares me.

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2 minutes ago, Memfis said:

Wow, I never had any problems using a vacuum cleaner. This discussion scares me.

I've also heard that they generate static, which can obviously damage PC components. Compressed air is the safer method, although I've also heard that the air can drive contaminants further into the works. So I guess we're screwed either way.

 

Also my bread chair sinks over time, and I have have to hold the lever to raise it back up every half hour or so. It doesn't have a USB port so I'm not sure how to make back-ups, please help.

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21 minutes ago, Memfis said:

Wow, I never had any problems using a vacuum cleaner. This discussion scares me.

Some plastics can hold a huge static charge. If your vacuum cleaner happens to use one of those, and you touch it on something conductive, frying may occur.

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My brother once vacuumed the PC. We had to live a year and a half without one after that. Last summer my PC was overheating, realizing that there was so much frickin dust everywhere inside it it was horrifiying. I needed to clean up my PC, but couldn't just sit in the car and travel 30 kilometers for a small air pump, and some brushes, and knowing where I live, that range might extend by a double or triple value.

 

Luckily I had some slav science at hand:

 

What everyone can make, when missing a air pump, is to take two 2l plastic bottles, cut one's bottom off, take the "upper" part, and then stick the other bottle inside. Boom, dusting out cheaply. Then, I used my spare super soft toothbrush to do some cleaning, doing it quite carefully, but it paid up in the end. I could have replaced the thermal paste, but I didn't since I was afraid, but I had heard majonez could work wonders as a thermal paste replacement. So if you have to replace it, but cannot run or drive to town immediately, you can apply mayonnaise, as it will work great a day or two. Afterwards clean it with a sponge :P

 

I wish I could say I used vodka for liquid cooling and stuff but nah, I won't lie, I have a old-by-modern-standards PC which wasn't meant for professional gaming. After I cleaned up the pc I kept the cases by side open, and placed a potato sack all around it so air can still go in, but nothing else other than it.

 

Worked like a charm. Still does. I had placed back the cases by the side a few days later when the usual air temperature chilled down.

Edited by Battle_Kirby
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On 24/07/2017 at 4:07 PM, Memfis said:

How bothersome it is to set up some sort of automatic backup that would be performed once in a while? Maybe like on a few selected folders or something. I can't imagine doing it by hand.

Dropbox is exactly this, fully automatic and free.

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My advice is to get out of the "backups" mindset. It assumes the "primary" version of the thing you work on is stored on a device that can at any time be lost, stolen, destroyed in a fire, or it can just stop working. In this model "backups" are an afterthought and something that has to be maintained and kept up to date.

 

Instead change your way of thinking. Store your things online and make a copy of them on your computer if you want to change them. By and large, providers of cloud services have already done the legwork of implementing backups and providing defences against hardware failure.

 

If you really want to do this properly then learn a system like Git or Mercurial. Sites like Bitbucket provide free hosting of private Git repositories, and there are other advantages like having a full history of all the changes you've made when developing your work.

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6 hours ago, Dragonfly said:

Dropbox is exactly this, fully automatic and free.

 

My instinctive reply to this was "this is not sufficient backup", but,

 

3 hours ago, fraggle said:

Instead change your way of thinking. Store your things online and make a copy of them on your computer if you want to change them. By and large, providers of cloud services have already done the legwork of implementing backups and providing defences against hardware failure.


This (and re-reading Dragonfly's reply, that too) is a pragmatic approach to try and get people who do no backups to be in a safer position.

 

Personally, I worry about having complete faith and trust in cloud services to store all my data, and I try to ensure that I keep local copies of stuff that is kept in the cloud to protect against problems there. I'm also a little antsy about sensitive information in the cloud (so, for example, when I was a 1Password user, I never used its sync functionality to sync my password DB via the cloud - I did do local LAN sync between my machines).

 

But I recognise the cost and expertise required to do backups the way I feel is "proper" is far and beyond the reach of most computer users, and we need to try and get more people doing something more than nothing. For most, cloud-based solutions like Dropbox really are a very, very good idea.

 

Kind-of related, I'm in the middle of a long project to import all my old "archive" CD/DVDs, and the success rate of reading them has been really eye-opening. Basically I would not advise using them anymore at all. I have more to write on this (and some software I wrote too) but it's not quite ready yet.

 

For Mac users, Time Machine is really, really easy to use; buy a big external HDD and set it up as a time machine destination. The mac will do the rest, including nagging you to plug it in when you forget for a few weeks. Make sure to password protect it when you set it up for the first time.

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Ideally you would do both local and remote backups.  Something like Time Machine / Windows Backup is very convenient, fast, and cheap, but it's not going to help at all if your house burns down or you get a lightning strike.  Even something as mundane as a failing power supply might kill it - if your external hard drive or whatever is physically connected to your PC, it might get killed too.  A cloud backup will (presumably) be safe against all of that, but restoring will be significantly slower.

 

Whatever you do, be sure to test your backups from time to time!!  Having tons of backups won't help you at all if they're completely broken.  Time Machine seems to get into a weird state every now and then (possibly because a lot of external hard drive enclosures are junk) and make sure that stuff is actually being uploaded to whatever cloud thing you use.

Edited by david_a
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On 24/07/2017 at 3:44 PM, antares031 said:

 

P.S.: Come to think of it, it was a really dumb idea to handle 24-pin cable when the power supply was turned on.

Yeah , LOL!! Never EVER do this folks. In fact if you're handling any part of your PC's insides make sure you're grounded in someway to avoid ESD and accidentally frying something.

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I still don't trust online backups. I'd rather do a manual backup by hand to an HDD and then store the HDD in a fire-proof safe, which is exactly what I need to do soon. I have everything I need, I just need to do the backup.

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3 hours ago, Nevander said:

I still don't trust online backups. I'd rather do a manual backup by hand to an HDD and then store the HDD in a fire-proof safe, which is exactly what I need to do soon. I have everything I need, I just need to do the backup.

A fire-proof safe is guarding against one of the four things I listed above. Hope in addition to that you're also:

  • Storing more than one backup, on a different site
  • Doing regular restore tests - since if you're not doing restore tests then you don't have a backup.

Here's the thing - "backups" are actually a really difficult problem. That's why I recommend using online services instead - you have professionals doing this stuff for you who know what they're doing. Instead of whether you "trust online backups" you should be asking why you trust yourself to get it right, because I'm not convinced I'd get this stuff right if I did it for my own stuff.

 

It all depends on how important your data really is of course. Maybe it's no big deal, but if you're going to the trouble of buying a fireproof safe then it sounds like you consider it quite valuable. If that's the case you might be fooling yourself.

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3 hours ago, fraggle said:

It all depends on how important your data really is of course. Maybe it's no big deal, but if you're going to the trouble of buying a fireproof safe then it sounds like you consider it quite valuable. If that's the case you might be fooling yourself.

Doom WADs, custom Doom files and mods, images and videos I've collected over the years of random stuff, my music collection, pretty much anything in my documents folder (nothing life-critical though, I don't store that shit on my PC to begin with), other files for various other games and stuff (like DUKE3D files), and just general shit like that.

 

So if I lost all that, it's not a huge loss... but it would suck. That's why I'd just use the old fashioned method which has worked for me in the past. I just need to stop being lazy about it and do it. Anything like programs or games would just get reinstalled when I want to if I had to start over. Anything like unattached files is what I would back up.

 

Another issue besides trust is my internet speed. Trying to back up online would take forever since I have GBs of music and yea... my upload speed is total ass. My download speed isn't much better, being only about 700 KB/s.

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If you want to be really save you'll have to use a client-server approach, where the client never has direct access to the backed up files. In fact using USB devices for backup is quite questionable, because if you're unlucky they might be hit by ransomware that encrypts your files. Yes, even if you don't have connected it all the time. Ransomware might do transparent encryption, so that you don't even notice it, and just disallow access after a month or so. It's still better than nothing, though (as long as you're aware of the risk).

 

Unfortunately I'm not aware of any easily usable client-server software for consumers.

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I backup sometimes even 10x a day. A lot of space is wasted, but its the safest way.

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On 05/01/2018 at 10:05 PM, Nevander said:

I still don't trust online backups. I'd rather do a manual backup by hand to an HDD and then store the HDD in a fire-proof safe, which is exactly what I need to do soon. I have everything I need, I just need to do the backup.

and that is the downside of manual backups; if you never do them, whats the point?

in fact, why not do both?

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10 hours ago, rehelekretep said:

and that is the downside of manual backups; if you never do them, whats the point?

in fact, why not do both?

Because like I said above, doing both would require me to sit around for hours days while my shitty upload speed tries to upload the GBs of shit I need to back up. I'd rather buy two or more external HDDs, two or more fire proof safes, back up to all of them, and store them separately all in different locations with all but one being off site. I'd literally rather do all that than do online backups.

Edited by Nevander

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