KleinesSinchen A good backup system should be able to prevent data loss – obviously. But data loss can occur because of several reasons. Taking many possible threats into account it gets difficult.

Here are a few things that can destroy your precious data:

  • Hardware failure like:
    • Failing storage medium for no apparent reason.
    • Failing storage medium because of age → Do you still have some old floppies? Do they work?
    • Overvoltage (lightning stroke) destroying the computer and the HDD/SSD electronics.
    • Failing HDD because of a rage attack (Yes, I had to deal with such a case. No, it wasn’t me. I don’t bang my fists onto the desk until the laptop HDD gives up)
  • User error like:
    • Deleting the wrong file/folder/partition/drive.
    • Pasting in text into a huge document while not noticing two pages were selected. The next day you do notice something in your dissertation is missing…
    • Clicking the wrong button: “I wanted to say >NOOO!!< you %”*’#´ computer!”
  • Software failure like:
    • An application crashes without saving your work.
    • An application corrupts a file because of ??? → Audacity did this once with one of my recordings.
    • This one was NOT funny.
  • Malware can do things like:
    • Delete data.
    • Silently corrupting a small number of files each day → That’s really mean. This would be a targeted attack. Not easy to deal with.
    • Encrypt all connected drives and accessible network shares (ransomware).
Still feeling confident nothing of these could harm your data? Well… there’s more.
  • Raging (ex-)boy|girlfriend deletes/destroys all storage media in the house.
  • Burglars steal the computer(s) and the external HDD(s). [Computer in a wider sense. Phones, consoles, tablets…]
  • A disaster destroys your house with everything in it.
    • Fire
    • Flood
    • Earthquake…
The second list shows the need for an off-site backup (stored in another location, preferably in a different city). It’s not easy to deal with all this threats at the same time and nobody will reach “perfect” security. And that’s still not the end… Making backups is the first step. An equally important, mostly forgotten step is testing the backup.
  • Did you try to restore?
  • Did you simulate disaster recovery on an empty computer?
  • Did you check (hashes) if the backed up files are okay?
  • Have you stored hashes on long time archive media to check if the data is intact if you need it a decade later?
  • Can you restore your personal files without a special software that might not work anymore on a new computer?
  • Would you feel good when somebody demands: “Delete everything on your main computer.” ?

My personal backup approach (it’s not perfect but works for me):

1. Automatic backup of the home directory to an external drive every six hours. Stores multiple versions – will omit the details here.

Protects against:
  • Failing main RAID 5
  • User error
  • Software error (mostly).
Does not protects against:
  • Ransomware
  • Burglars/Disasters
  • Targeted (software) attack
2. Manual full backup every two weeks to one of two external HDDs. After full backup is done, the HDD is stored in a different town (only one is at my house each time).

Protects against:
  • Burglars/Disasters
  • Failing main RAID 5
  • Ransomware (mostly)
  • Software error
Does not protect against:
  • Loss of the most recent files/changes for any reason → not frequent enough
  • Targeted (software) attack

3. Additional manual backup of selected files that can’t be replaced by any means on M-Disc DVD/BD or on BD type HTL. This is my last line of defense and does not cover all data (optical media have not enough storage). This is also the only case where I actually include md5sum verification. Multiple copies are stored at different locations.

Protects against:

  • Burglars/Disasters
  • Failing main RAID 5
  • Ransomware
  • Software error
  • Targeted software attack → read only medium
Does not protect against:
  • Loss of recent files/changes; even worse than in "2." because I don't do that very often.
Files on the optical media are things like: Stories I’ve written over the years, audio recordings, NAND-backups – in short: Everything not too big that can’t be replaced.

This is not part of my backup concept (and I won’t include it because I don’t like relying on someone else’ computers, even if using client side encryption):


  • H1B1Esquire
  • KleinesSinchen
  • H1B1Esquire
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