Computer evacuation: backups

Tags: python, personal

I’ve got a new job, so that means a new laptop. Which means evacuating the current one. Which means it is an excellent moment to review my backup planning.

Good backups mean reliable restoring.

I mean, what’s the difference between my current laptop transferring peacefully to its new owner and some bravo that kicks me bloody and robs me of my laptop? Backup-wise nothing. Except perhaps that you typed “” just one more time before right before handing it over.

So my backup should be OK all the time. So I should be able to grab a new laptop and install everything (from backup) just fine. So here’s my review:

  • I’ve got a CD with my GPG and SSH keys. And my brother has one, too, in case my house burns down.

  • All my (python) code is in a version control system. Stored remotely. You’ll need multiple warheads to take all that out.

  • All my custom small scripts are in a version control system. Just an “svn co” or “bzr co” away.

  • My documents/ folder with not-too-important docs is backed up downstairs. The important ones are in a vcs, again. Hm. I thought I backed that one up remotely, too. Well, that’s one thing I’m gonna do on my new laptop.

  • The important documents and bought PDF books are in a vcs of course.

Some pain points:

  • My music. In CDs downstairs. In mp3 on my laptop and a backup on the PC downstairs. That’s a bit too close for comfort. I made a DVD backup last year, so most of it is safely 80km away. Now where did I put that… With my parents or my brother… :-)

    Music: backing that up remotely… I would really have to check if my server (in the UK, so that’s a safe distance from Nieuwegein) has enough room for that. My ADSL connection sure would not be even remotely happy.

    A DVD backup seems the most practical solution for now. But I’m contemplating ripping it all as flac instead of mp3/ogg/whatever. That worsens the situation dramatically gigabyte-wise. Anybody got a solution for that?

  • My photos. I’m pretty much current with giving stars (1-5) to my photos in iphoto. And geotagging them and such. All the 4-5 stars get uploaded to my smugmug account, which counts as a proper backup. And the 3-stars get backed up there as well (only hidden from regular viewers). The 1-2 stars get zapped.

    So: remote backup (though it is a one-way street at the moment). And a local backup downstairs.

  • My movies. Extracted DVDs and videos made with my simple camera. The DVDs are only on my laptop and backed up downstairs. The self-made videos are also on smugmug, so that’s safe again. Note that I’m using smugmug’s smugvault so that my videos are also stored in the original format.

So: I can use some extra hints on backing up those many-gigabyte video/photo/music files. For the rest I’m pretty much set.

Houses being demolished in Delft.  What if your laptop were still inside? logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

Weblog feeds

Most of my website content is in my weblog. You can keep up to date by subscribing to the automatic feeds (for instance with Google reader):