Oh, man … my computer just crashed. Have you ever lost any data or photos because your computer crashed or failed? Or perhaps there was some operator error involved? Makes no difference the reason, if you lose data, it's lost. Unless, of course, you've been diligent about backing everything up.
Diligent … that's a tough word. I wouldn't say we're exactly diligent. It's more like whenever we think of it (which is rarely), we mention to each other that we should back up our computers soon. Then one of the computers starts acting funky and we actually do a backup … post haste. I'm always very pleased with myself right after I complete a backup, but I have a short term memory and it just doesn't occur to me to do it again until something happens. This time, I was lucky. I recovered most everything. In times past, however, I haven't been as lucky and lost lots of data. When the data is photos, it's a heartbreaker.
I used to back up everything on CDs and then later DVDs. When trying to access some of the old media, however, I've found several corrupted disks and photos that were irrecoverable. We have several USB-driven hard drives aboard now and we've purchased a couple of new ones since we've been back in the States. Data storage is pretty cheap nowadays. I remember thinking 250GB would be overkill for what I needed. We tend to download movies which are data hogs, so now we have several 1TB hard drives (TB = terabyte, for those who are living in the last century). That's 1000GB or a trillion bytes … a trillion! What comes next? Actually, petabytes, then exabytes, then zettabytes, then ... Sorry, I digress.
I've copied all of our old CDs and DVDs to external hard drives and now I tend to save all my photos and important documents on two separate drives … just in case one craps out. Yes, we've heard of on-line memory and the cloud, but internet access is often a problem. When we're at sea, we have no internet access at all, and in many places, internet access is slow and is charged by the byte, so online backup options just don't work for us. It seems there's no totally safe media when you're on a boat. Beyond the backups, anything that's important gets sent back home on memory sticks or discs for safekeeping. Remembering that the salt environment is corrosive and hostile to most things … crew excepted ... keeps us more aware of our data vulnerability. (Right!)