On-line backups / flood insurance

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The next best time is now.

One of my external hard drives is dying. On the way to the store to buy a replacement, I thought that perhaps I should price on-line backup first. If I am willing to spend $80 on a piece of hardware that offers more of the same protection I already have, I should be willing to spend at least that much for a different type of protection altogether. Gina Tripani’s Upgrade Your Life recommends mozy.com; $5 / month buys backup for unlimited amounts of data. Discounts apply when you prepay for two years at a time.

I forked over my credit card number, downloaded and installed the application, and clicked the “backup now” button. The application did its thing and came back to tell me that it would take five days to back up my hard drive at my current connection speed, a little less if I could accept some performance degradation in my system.

Wow. Five days’ of data? (15G, BTW) Five days to PROTECT my data? Good thing my (internal) hard drive isn’t already making funny noises!  At the end of the first 24 hours, the system reports that 5.1G have been backed up, so perhaps they’ve overestimated.  (The FAQ tell me that if I have to disconnect, Mozy will pick up where we left off.)  Future backups will be incremental and take much less time.

It was at this point that I thought about flood insurance, a useful policy to consider for people who live in the path of hurricanes (among other forces that make water cross property lines).  Flood insurance is sold with a 30-day delay.  You can’t wake up one rainy morning and buy coverage that will be in effect by nightfall.  You have to decide that floods are a possible risk for your home and take action long before it is possible to know that any given rainfall will threaten your property.

For almost all of my readers, the relative risk of hard drive failure: flood damage is 1:0.  Unless you have a much faster connection, or less data on your hard drive, than I do, the time between deciding to back up online and BEING backed up online is measured in days.  Get that tree planted now.

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