Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Surviving a Precarious Reliance on the Internet
Last night, the vaunted Google Fiber network to our house in Provo, Utah went dead. A chat with Google that lasted over an hour, ended up with an announcement that the first day they could schedule anyone to come and look at the situation was five days off. I might as well be sitting in the middle of Canyonlands National Park. Fortunately, I do have the alternative of driving down to the BYU Family History Library and camping out for the entire day.
I recently wrote a post about backing up your data files (and everything else while you are at it) called, "Back It Up, Archive It, Preserve It or Lose It." I fear that I didn't emphasize enough the evanescent nature of each of the popular media for backing up computer data. Genealogists generate a lot of data. Historically, this was, and still is, most piles of paper. But those of use attached to the internet are accumulating huge numbers of files. I may have mentioned this recently, but my most recent backup entailed the transfer of more than 10 million files and took three full days.
If you listen to the "back it up online" advocates, they represent their products and programs to be the solution to all your data preservation issues. But as my recent experience with my internet connection illustrates, depending on the internet to be operational at any given moment can be risky. I have long ago learned not to rely on internet connections when doing presentations in classes or at conferences. But our recent five-day down experience should be a graphic demonstration of the present unreliability of all of the forms of backing up data.
The only answer is to have more that one backup media and then add redundancy to each of the different methods. In other words, don't put all your eggs in the same basket.
If you use hard drives, make sure that you have more than one hard drive and in the best case scenario, keep one off site in a trusted location. If you use any other media, such as flash drives (thumb drives to some) then this redundancy is even more important.
I may be struggling to have time to write. I usually start very early in the day and write most of the morning. For the time being, I will have to get completely ready and travel to the Library to write at all.