A Backup Strategy

Discussion in 'Palm' started by AKAJohnDoe, Feb 6, 2005.

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  1. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Mobile Deity

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    My Backup Strategy

    See my website (URL below) for the most current information.

    Updates in GREEN are the PPC equivalents - the basic process is identical irrespective of platform.

    Note: Since I migrated to PPC the Palm software referenced herein remains frozen in time as of that point. In other words, be sure to check for updates, newer versions, and newer products before embarking on a Palm-based software acquisition!

    I hotsync (activesync) daily when I can (although I have gone as long as two weeks). BackupBuddy for Windows software runs during this process. Options enabled for BackupBuddy for Windows include to perform a checkpoint on every hotsync and keep two generations. My SD card is not being backed up by this software.

    I backup my T3 (X50V) to a 1GB SD card using two different products: BackupBuddy VFS:pro and BackupMan (Spb Backup and (Sprite Backup). There also is a backup facility in SKTools that I periodically use for ad-hoc backups. The two daily backups go to different memory cards: Sprite Backup to SD; Spb Backup to CF. This further reduces risk by separating the backups physically on the local device.

    A scheduled automated BackupBuddy VFS:pro backup happens every day (Sprite Backup and SPB Backup). I keep three days of these backups.

    A scheduled backup using BackupMan happens every day.

    I backup the SD card to my PC weekly. I use a USB card reader for this. I create a new directory in the form YYYY-MM-DD for each weekly backup and keep as many generations as I feel I need, usually no more than two or three.

    I backup the user data (not the OS) from my PC to a USB external 160GB hard disk at least weekly. I keep three generations of weekly backups.

    I backup selected critical files at selected points in time to a CD and keep that in a secure location separate and offsite from the PC and the disk drive. This for physical protection of the backups.

    The T3 (X50V) is in an metal hard case (hard case). The PC is a laptop in a Pelican case. Another Pelican case houses the USB external disk drive.

    Additionally, I keep some specific files in directories on the SD card for easy access while away from my PC. That way I can perform a complete restore after hard reset while away from my PC. These include the T3 Compatibilty DIAs, some themes for ZLauncher and PocketTunes, the Palm Security Update for the T3, and so forth.

    Also, I do not use the T3 (X50V) cradle. Instead I have two travel chargers (one for home & travel, the other stays in my office at work) and a Belkin auto+USB charger in my car. I had a Palm Power-To-Go, but sold it since I was rarely using it (Although I do have three standard batteries for the X50V). I use a hotsync (activesync) cable rather than the cradle as well. I frequently install via an SD card and a USB card reader rather than via hotsync. Just personal preferences.

    Encryption, on the PDA, on memory cards, and of backups may be important to you. In fact, in many cases, you may be legally required to do so. For example, if you are keeping confidential patient data or confidential legal client data or confidential employee personal data on your PDA and not encrypting I want to fund my retirement off of the lawsuits to come that will be surrounding you! Know your responsibilities surrounding this aspect of your data!

    I have not performed incremental backups of my PDA data as I have done on larger platforms; however, for many, the ability to take a full backup periodically with intervening incrementals provides benefits such the ability to perform selective rollbacks or point-in-time recoveries. The disadvantage is that, in a true incremental model, in order to reach currency, the last full backup must be restored, followed by each intervening incremental, in sequence, which can be time-consuming. Due to the volume of data contained in the incremental backups, which include only changed data, there often is a pre-process, sometimes referred to as change accumulation, to "break bulk" and ensure that the change log that is applied includes only the final change, not all intervening changes to any specific data element.

    A backup is a snapshot as of some point in time. How many to retain is dependent upon:
    • How much space you have available for backups (Capacity)
    • How far you want to be able to go back in time (Generations)
    • How rapidly your information changes (Velocity)
    • How often you take a snapshot (Frequency)

    Keep in mind that with unlimited space one could go quite a ways back in time, the further one goes back, the less current the information becomes.

    So, if your information rarely changes (low velocity), then you need less frequent backups. If your information changes often (high velocity), then more frequent backups are in order.

    The frequency of the backups determines the number of generations to keep.

    For example, a daily backup with three generations is three days worth of backups. However, to get three days worth of backups with a backup taken twice a day requires six generations.

    Very simple calculus: rate of change as it relates to time.

    I also keep my important data not only in multiple locations and in backups, but also in multiple forms. This is one of the main reasons why I chose the SplashID, ListPro, and PocketQuicken applications. The all have desktop components so the data is also resident on my PC (and incidentally, gets picked up by the separate backup cycles that occur there). Additionally, both SplashID and ListPro support import/export in common and open data formats (e.g.: CSV) so that there is no proprietary interface needed. This has become a requirement for me when considering software. Having data locked into a broken or dead-ended format one time is enough for most people. Also of interest is that these three products are available for both Palm and PPC platforms.

    And, of course, although I don't actually use Outlook (Thunderbird wins out hands-down), I do sync all my Calendar, Task, Contact, and other PIM information (other than eMail) with Outlook on my PC via ActiveSync. This provides another readily accessible backup of that data with minimal effort on my part. My PDA remains the prime repository of my PIM data.

    On-Demand
    • Ad-Hoc backups
    • Checkpoint Backups
    • Restores from backups
    Daily
    • Hotsync including BackupBuddy for Windows backup (Activesync)
    • 02:02 SKTools automated cleanup
    • 02:22 BackupBuddy VFS automated backup (03:03 Sprite Backup automated backup to SD card)
    • 03:33 BackupMan automated backup (04:04 SPB Backup automated backup to CF card)
    Weekly
    • Backup of SD card to PC via USB card reader
    • Backup of CF card to PC via USB card reader
    • Backup of PC to USB external drive
    • Backup of critical files to CD
    Monthly
    • Review of backups to ensure they are happening correctly
    • Cleanup of any unneeded backups
    Quarterly
    • Hard reset/restores to test and validate the usability of the backups
    • Cleanup of saved and unsaved preferences

    The keys in any backup strategy are:
    1. Have current data available at the time it is needed with minimal or zero data loss.
    2. Have multiple copies available where appropriate to ensure that at least once copy is readable. Backups are just data and can have errors just like any other data.
    3. Have the data in multiple forms where appropriate.
    4. Have the backups in multiple locations to reduce the risk of physical loss
    5. Have the means to restore the data and perform periodic validation of that process
    6. Minimization of down time
    7. Simple processes, automated where possible, to ensure they are actually performed.

    Backups are simply a means of risk management. Nothing more. Nothing less.
     

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  2. royofsf

    royofsf Member

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    This is terrific for those of us who are formulaing our own backup plan. Thank you.
     
  3. holvoetn

    holvoetn Still a moderator ...

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    What I use:
    1- Hotsync at least twice a day (in the morning when entering the office + after lunch) + after each session of adding/modifying appointments (during my daily review cycle which normally takes place after business hours, not necessarily at the office anymore). This also has the advantage Calendar, Memos, Tasks and Addresses are synchronised with the Notes Server (I use Lotus Notes). This server is backed up daily.
    2- Daily backup using Backupman (at 04h00 AM)
    3- Weekly backup of the SD-card to my PPC (using Softick Card Export II). I keep 3 versions.
    4- the data-folders of the PPC get backed up automatically every 8 days to the company network drive or at user command (the network drive gets backed up daily)
    5- Monthly I burn the data which I want to protect to CD/RWs (already 2: 1 for Lotus Notes archives, 1 for the rest) (PS: the Notes Archive is cleaned on a weekly basis to avoid too much clutter)
    6- Monthly I also copy the data which went to the CD/RWs to my home-pc.
    7- From the home PC I only burn the data on CD/RW which I can not reproduce (= no full back-up, only data-folders)

    I already had various crashes on my PDA (most self-inflicted :D) , Portable PC and home-PC (Windows ... explains enough ? :D) and up till now I did not loose any sensitive data.
    I admit I have to spend quite some time when restoring the home-PC since this first requires a full installation of Windows and all applications (I do have all the CDs at hand).

    So an additional backup-device for home might be something I need to put on my 'Maybe Get' list when I compare my strategy to yours ...
     
  4. Dick Tracy

    Dick Tracy Detective/Moderator

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    Good plans, quality of such remains in the discipline of execution.

    Offsite storage and the ability to restore or recover remotely are important if you live anywhere where you may have to evacuate due to a disaster (natural or manmade) or if you have unreliable electricity and the possibility of being unable to refuel your backup power supply is a reasonable assumption.
     
  5. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Mobile Deity

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    Absolutely. Risk management is all about the likelihood of the risk vs the cost of mitigating that risk and one's own personal comfort level with the risks.

    While preparedness for a catastophic disaster is generally wise, the likelyhood of a smaller scale event is much higher both in probability and frequency.

    For example, a corrupt file on the PDA that can be recovered from a SD backup is far more likely than a volcanic eruption. The total loss of the PDA with the SD card falls somewhere in between.

    Therefore, automation of the processes that perform local backups can help ensure they are available when needed. Removing the human element from their creation makes them more reliable. Getting the local backups off-device provides some protection beyond that.

    I simply depend upon my PDA too much to risk being without it for an extended period of time.
     
  6. Nine

    Nine Ooh NO, missus...

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    Accidently dropping your SD card into the volcano at the same time does reduce the odds somewhat. I can happily endorse all the good advice provided in this thread so far - it beats the *ss off my first-ever palm backup strategy which was mainly a) lose all data utterly and b) run round a lot crying into a hanky. :)
     
  7. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Mobile Deity

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  8. Nine

    Nine Ooh NO, missus...

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    <Nine adopts a respectful silence> :(
     
  9. Dick Tracy

    Dick Tracy Detective/Moderator

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    Been there, done that. Was at work at 0630 the next morning taking a PC on a shopping cart to the Federal Reserve Bank to move corporate money; that's why the Psion entered my life a few years later. Learned a bit more from a colleague who was an officer at First Interstate when they had the HQ highrise fire a couple of years later. Had serious problems convincing NY bankers they needed to have diasaster plans/alternate contacts in the early 1990s. I suspect that may have changed.
     
  10. AKAJohnDoe

    AKAJohnDoe Mobile Deity

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    I was in SF on business the week after that earthquake and saw the buildings that had collapsed onto the street, and in my office in downtown Seattle during the Nisqually quake. Makes me rather nostalgic for the Iowa tornados of my youth.
     
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