Three Golden Rules

By Vince Barnes

These are the three most important rules
for protecting your data


Imagine if you will, all the thought that goes into a website; then the work involved in it's actual creation; the care with which its various elements are interconnected; and the pride with which it is placed onto a web server and published for the world to see.

Next, a little time goes by and the site evolves with a tweak here, add a page there, put a database link in this, and so on. Pretty soon the site has grown a lot and represents its developer's blood, sweat and tears.

Then the server crashes and the call comes in from hosting company to say "sorry, you'll have to upload your pages again." Pages? PAGES? WHAT PAGES? The horror dawns on you that your only copy is that original set that you first created. All that extra work was done after that upload and was added piece by piece to the live site. Only the live site had it all. And that database of contact information you've been collecting -- it was up there too!

Now to those golden rules. They apply to everything to do with computers, but we're especially interested in how they apply to website creation and maintenance. I'm sure you've guessed the first part by now. That's right -- Backup!

Rule number one is backup your stuff! When you make a copy, however, things can go wrong with the copy process. It's a good idea to make a copy of your existing backup before you start to copy over it -- just in case! Now you have a one generation old copy and a current copy.

Then there's Murphy's Law. "If it can go wrong it will. If it can't go wrong, it'll go wrong quicker." (If that's not actually Murphy's Law, I'm sure he'd be pretty proud of it anyway!) Here's the scene (it's based on the last one): as your hanging up the phone after the call from the hosting company a knowing smile stretches itself across your face; "I have those two copies in the other room - let me get one and send it up," you think to yourself. As you do, and as if in direct response to your smirk, a bolt of lightning comes out of the blue, smashes its way through your roof, through the back room, through your computer and melts your CDs and floppies as it goes.

Oops! (Thank goodness it missed the cat - this is, after all, a family style newsletter!)

Yes, that's right -- you should have made another copy and kept it at work or in your safe deposit box. An off-site copy is another very reasonable backup. Of course, its possible that the call comes from the hosting company, a bolt takes out your PC and a flash flood washes away the bank. If this happens to you, you might want to examine your life a little - the universe seems to be exceptionally mad at you.

So, more correctly stated, rule one would be "backup your backups." That would leave rule two as "backup your stuff" and rule three as "backup your stuff again and keep the backup off-site." The short form of the three golden rules is:

Backup backup; backup; and backup again.

Say that to yourself a few times. Now ask yourself "did I just say that, or have I actually done it?"

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