ablog_Why Backups Don't Work

30 November -0001
It's a common adage that every computer user knows by now: "back up your work." And yet, most of us probably don't do just that. Why is it that computer users don't back up their important data? I have several theories. I think the first, and probably most influential reason people don't back up their work is that it's inconvenient. You have to point, click, drag and wait. Essentially it's a pain in the butt, a hassle, and takes time. The thing about this reasoning that baffles me is that this sort of mindless work is exactly the kind of work computers were designed to do. You should be able to give your computer a list of directories and files, flag them as 'important' and have them backed up automatically. There doesn't seem to be any adequate tool available (or cheap, or convenient enough) around to do just that. I think part of this problem might be alleviated if people had a means by which they could work on documents stored on remote servers that were automatically backed up. In fact, many organizations enforce this kind of work flow among their employees. The problem with this strategy, however, is that network file access simply isn't as fast as hard disk access. What I mean by this is that it's faster to open a file from your local machine than it is to open one on a remote machine. Perhaps proper utilization of gigabit ethernet could alleviate some of this problem, but in general workstations aren't designed to access remote resources, and they do a bad job of staying efficient when working with remote files (programs get laggy and responsiveness drops). It seems to me that the market is ripe for an easy backup solution. I know I got one with the external USB hard drive I bought. But it's not very fast, and again, it takes time. Even though I just have to press a button for it to work, I still have to configure it and then remember to press the button. Computers are huge alarm clock calculators at their core and this sort of work seems like it should be done for me. Of course, solutions have existed in the Unix world for ages that address this problem. Tools like 'rsync' and 'cron' can be combined to schedule a smart backup of certain directories. Why this functionality hasn't been ported (or at least emulated) on Windows is beyond me. Perhaps you can use these tools on an Apple computer, but I'm not sure (someone help me out here?).