Protecting Yourself from Disaster

One of Steve Jones’s latest “Voice of the DBA” podcasts, “The $50,000 Laptop”, got me thinking.

In particular, in the last, short, paragraph:

Encrypting the laptop almost cuts the loss in half.

Now, that I’m not sure about – except in as much as the act of putting some encryption software reduces the likelihood of someone else being able to decrypt your data, but it doesn’t, to my mind, actually reduce the cost of the theft. Unless there’s the indirect / knock-on effect of making you think about the data on your laptop, and take other steps to protect it.

These are some of the tools I use.


Dropbox and its ilk are all well and good, but they do generally come with limits on the amount of data you’re allowed to store and sync, with the free account currently capped at 18GB (assuming you can get enough friends to sign up – click my referral link…)

Actually, Dropbox is great, for what it is – a cheap (from free) and quick way of syncing some data across multiple devices. The downside is that that data (it seems to me) has to be in your Dropbox folder, which means that it’s not good as a single solution to backup your entire computer.


A similar proposition to that from Dropbox, but it allows more flexibility in which files are backed up, meaning you can pick up files from various locations on the desktop.

A downside of SugarSync’s handling of deleted files is that these count towards your usage – I’ve been caught out a few times by moving data around my HDD out of a folder that SugarSync was covering, and surprised to find that, although the SugarSync’d files appeared to total about 1.2GB of data, I had used up 93% of my 8GB allowance. Hmm.


And now we’re getting into the paid stuff. This little bit of software allows me to back up unlimited data from one machine (assuming it’s stored on locally-attached storage), and a two year plan is US $95. By default, it won’t back up files more than 4GB in size, or back up virtual machine images; however, those options can be configured.

The way it works – a little app sits in your system tray, keeping a lazy eye on changing files, and backs them up to Backblaze’s servers. It’s not an instant solution, obviously – it could take a few weeks to get your initial data dump backed up, but it appears to work without any hassle.


Other products exist, eg GoogleDrive, SkyDrive, and various off-site backup providers

I’ve not yet had to rely on one or more of these to help me in a data loss / DR scenario.

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