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International Verify Your Backups Day

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I’m not a superstitious sort, though I admit to preferring a particular jersey and shorts when I’m racing. But for many people, Friday the 13th is an inauspicious day, long reputed to be unlucky.

So I propose that we fight back against both superstition and the forces of entropy that constantly tear down all those works we labor so hard at creating.

The best defense against entropy is a good backup strategy. To quote a long-ago ad campaign from backup software maker Dantz Development, “To go forward, you must back up.”

But as those of us who have had to rely on our backups in the past know, the act of backing up is only the first small step in the full equation — it’s being able to restore that really matters.

Some psychiatrist friends with their own practice once ran afoul of this in a serious way. Their bookkeeper had religiously been making backups of all their invoicing and billing records as she worked, but she had never tried restoring from those backups until her hard disk died. When she went to restore from her carefully prepared backups, she was aghast to discover that they hadn’t been working. Months of data was lost, and it was a huge problem both for the bookkeeper and for my friends.

Therefore, I humbly submit that Friday the 13th, whenever it rolls around, should be considered International Verify Your Backups Day. (The United Nations is welcome to make this official.) In 2014, Friday the 13th occurs only once, in June, and in 2015, we'll be celebrating in February, March, and November. If you’re reading this article on some other day, I’d encourage you to verify your backups right away and then continue with the Friday the 13th schedule.

Take a few minutes to identify some critical files and see if you can restore them successfully from your backups. If a bootable backup is part of your backup strategy, make sure you can actually boot from it. (If you don’t have a good backup from which you can restore right now, allow me to recommend the latest edition of one of our most popular ebooks, Joe Kissell’s “Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac.”)

That’s it. No costumes are necessary, there’s no obligatory greeting, and you aren’t expected to make a special meal. If you feel the need to honor your successful verification, well, a little celebratory imbibing of your favorite beverage is never inappropriate.

But do tell your friends, relatives, and colleagues about International Verify Your Backups Day. Because losing data is not a question of if, but of when, and good backups from which you can restore reliably will protect you from unexpected losses small and large alike.

Check out the Take Control ebooks that expand on the topic in this article:

Joe Kissell provides the advice you need to create a Mac backup strategy that protects your data and enables quick recovery. He compares backup software, services, and media to help you make the best choices. You'll learn to set up, test, and maintain backups, plus how to restore files after a calamity! Don't miss our new Joe of Tech comic!
We love CrashPlan, but making the most of its many options can be daunting. Backup expert Joe Kissell teaches you how to devise a custom CrashPlan backup strategy, start backing up to multiple destinations, achieve optimal performance, manage CrashPlan PRO users, and access backed-up files with CrashPlan Mobile apps.

 

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Comments about International Verify Your Backups Day

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Leigh Kessler  2011-05-13 20:15
Adam, you know Dolly Drive, Online Backup for Time Machine, is proud to support International Verify Your Backup Day! In fact, with our all-in-one Cloud and Clone, we submit you speak to the UN about adding International Double Your Backup Day.
Reply
DBATAG  2012-01-06 06:21
I heard about father day, mother day, computer gadget cleaning day but never ever heard of backup verify day !!!

Amazed, anyways, I also marked my calender to verify some SQL Server databases backup on this DAY !

Thanks

DBATAG
Reply
Chris Hart  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2012-01-13 07:10
After 15+ years of supporting Macs, I've run across enough instances of incomplete/unusable backups that I can speak to the value of this initiative.
Reply
JohnB (SciFiOne)   2012-01-13 09:57
The latest edition of the back up book is very good BTW.
Reply
Michael Blackstone  2013-09-13 12:28
Great idea - I added it to my Toodledo list. Unfortunately, repeating "every Friday 13th" isn't one of the options.
Reply
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-09-13 12:35
Hah! That's a great Easter Egg suggestion for the BusyCal folks. :-)
Reply
Rob Lewis  2013-09-13 12:49
Great idea!

(In the early 80's I had an advertising client who made a high-capacity tape backup cartridge system. My tag line: "MegaTape: the great leap forward in backup". Pre-Dantz.)
Reply
Stefan Reitshamer  2013-09-13 16:28
Good idea. Backups are worthless if you can't restore. I wrote a backup app (Arq, for the Mac) and I'm always surprised by how few people seem to be testing restore.
Reply
Dominic Dunlop  2014-06-13 09:20
Too right! Wanted to restore an iTunes track that had got mangled from Time Machine yesterday, only to discover that TM had decided to stop backing up that particular directory's contents a while ago. Luckily (Prudently) I have two TM destinations, so nothing lost. First destination will be busy doing a complete back-up for quite a while…
Reply
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-06-13 09:22
You're our 2014 poster child, Dominic! Thanks for sharing this real-world example of why testing backups is so important.
Reply
Charles  2014-06-13 20:22
LOL I frequently have tech support calls from people who can't get their backup to work. They only discover their backups don't work, when their drive fails and they try to restore for the first time.

A good example: I got hired as IT manager of a small company with 5 stores. Each store had rotating backups on 3 hard drives, one was kept offsite at all times.

So the day after I was hired, the main server drive crashed. It was a Windows server, of course. I went to the backup drive, it was formatted FAT32, which has a max file size of 2Gb. The backup files were about 12Gb, so only the first 2 gigs were recorded. Every backup of every drive in the company was corrupt, due to incompetent setup. Nobody ever tested this for the 2 years the backup scheme was in place.

To make a long story short, they had to send the drive to a disk recovery company. Cost: $4000.
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