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Technology

Digital data insurance, or: don’t let your memories die when your hard disk does

My Apple Time Capsule packed up yesterday. One minute it was working fine; the next, it sounded like a washing machine full of hammers. The hard disk is gone, which is a pain – it had my iTunes library, three years of home movies and ten years of digital photos.

I had a backup, of course, so it’s just a pain in the arse rather than a complete disaster. But if I’d put my trust in my Time Capsule, if I hadn’t assumed that it would pack up eventually, I’d be up Shit Creek without a boat – and quite possibly divorced. Losing every single video of your daughter is not the sort of thing that makes you popular with your better half.

I can’t stress this enough: hard disk failures are more common than you might think. I’ve had two in the last six months. If you don’t have a backup of all your irreplaceable files – the digital photos, the footage of baby’s first steps, the novel you’re going to finish this Christmas – Murphy’s Law says that sooner or later you’ll lose the lot.

So I’m down to a single external drive, which leaves me with a choice: buy another external drive to mirror my libraries (my MacBook Pro’s hard disk is too small for iTunes, iPhoto and videos; even an upgrade would run out of room pretty sharpish), or sign up for a remote backup service.

I’ve gone for the latter: Mozy. It looks good, it’s reasonably priced, it’s encrypted, it’s offsite and it does incremental backups (so you’re not hurling tens of gigabytes around the place every time you update), so it appears to tick all the boxes. More to the point, at just under five quid per month it’s a pretty cheap way to protect priceless files.

I’ll let you know how I get on. I just have to upload 282 gigabytes of data first.