Check Your Backups. RIGHT NOW.

Safety Deposit BoxAs Amy noted last week, we write a lot—a lot—about backing up your work.

Guess what? It’s time to write about backups again, but with a twist. I’m not going to exhort you to backup your essential computer files. Instead, I’ll assume you’re already running some sort of automated backup system. Dropbox. SpiderOak. BitTorrent Sync, whatever. I’m not going to exhort you to backup your files. I am going to exhort you to check that your backup system is indeed backing up what you want it to, when you want it to.

And I’m going to ask that you do this because working backup solutions do occasionally stop working, i.e. fail miserably. For example, I just discovered that the WordPress plugin I had been using to backup and email myself a zipped copy of my WordPress MySQL database inexplicably stopped working. Even worse, it had stopped working two months ago. And I’ve only now just found out. For the past two months I had been getting emails (automatically filtered into a Gmail folder called “backups”) that contained only empty zip files. The likely culprit is a change in my shared web hosting settings—a change I had no control over.

I’m now scrambling to find another automated backup solution for my blog. In the meantime I’ve done a manual backup through MySQL itself, which is no fun. But at least I know about the problem.

Remember: not backing up when you think you are backing up can be just as disastrous as totally neglecting to back up your work!

Have you ever made a similar discovery about your backups? What’d you do? And did you catch the problem before it was too late?

Box 296 photograph courtesy of Flickr user Chewy734 / Creative Commons Licensed

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