The first task in getting one's backups in order is to identify ALL the data to be backed up. Simple as that sounds, it's something that many people don't do.
It's particularly easy to fall into the trap of thinking that particular kinds of data is not worth backing up. For example, you might think that your operating system or applications are not worth backing up because you can always restore them from the distribution disks. While strictly true, this approach does not place a value on the enormous cumulative effort you have put in to install and configure your computer system.
You might think that a one-line configuration file is not worth backing up. However, if it took you three hours to figure out how to set that configuration, it will probably take you three hours again in six months time.
You might think that your laptop isn't worth backing up "because it's just a copy of my desktop", but forget that you keep your diary on your laptop.
So identify EVERY piece of data on which you rely.
Once you have identified all the data that needs to be backed up, give each separate major unit of data a unique name and create a list of these units. For example, if you have three machines Thomas, Richard and Henry, and each has a system disk and a working disk, you might name the disks Thomas.System, Thomas.Working, Richard.System, Richard.Working, Henry.System, and Henry.Working. Once you have names for each disk, you can label and manage your backups.
Once you have identified the units of data to be backed up, and named them all, you should only ever back them up as complete units. For example, if you have a disk called "Fred" then you should backup the entire disk, and label that backup "Fred" (with the date). Do not ever backup part of the disk onto a backup marked "Fred".
Copyright © Ross Williams 1997. All rights reserved.