Tip #193: Useful Training Resources #4

This week’s useful training resource comes to us by way of Mark Buehl, who has been my Mac computer guru for over twenty years! This resource makes backing up huge amounts of data quick, easy, and painless, and it is even portable!
If you are a trainer and have been training for a while, you probably have huge amounts of data to back up. So, how do you back up your data? My evolution in data back up is pretty typical, or so I imagine.

First, it didn’t occur to me to back up my data- until I learned the very hard way (can anyone say: “Hours of work completely lost and irretrievable from either the computer or your memory?”)

After that terribly sad fiasco, I started backing up to floppy disks. If I could find them now, I could easily wall paper a house with them! That was sure time consuming! But it was SO worth the trouble! I can’t tell you how often I would go looking for some file that I had inadvertently deleted- and, joy of joys, I would find it!

When I got a new computer that had no slot for a floppy disk, I needed another alternative. So I started backing up to CDs, which was not so bad, but was still time consuming. Plus, I had to keep buying the CDs and then find a good place to store them. Keeping one in my safety deposit box at the credit union was a good idea, but very inconvenient to make a visit every week. Keeping the rest in a drawer in my garage was not a good idea, but very convenient. However, that drawer would get full and I would have to pitch lots of the older data backup CDs.

My third more sophisticated option was to back up to a second hard drive in my computer. And I have been doing that religiously every night for years. Except that occasionally the icon for my backup drive will disappear from my desktop- as it did a few weeks ago, letting me know that the backup drive has in some way become unavailable. (Aren’t you impressed with my techno-savvy explanation?) This necessitates a desperate call to Mark, who will calmly come over to try to locate the lost data and ultimately reformat the internal drives. Since this would mean that all my backed up data was gone, I would have to start all over again, backing up everything (my system and my applications and my data files).

Every time my computer goes on the blink, I worry about not having access to either of my internal hard drives. And although I do occasionally “back up” the data from my desk top computer to my laptop, my laptop also occasionally goes on the blink and makes it difficult to access anything on it!

After thirty years, my entire professional life is on my computer! I have hundreds of training programs and almost that many PowerPoint programs (with cartoons) to accompany them, so the number and size of my data files is absolutely enormous! And I don’t want to delete anything, because I might be able to use it in another program some day. That means that I am starting to run out of space on my internal backup drive.

So I was relieved when Mark told me about a small, portable external drive that made backing up data almost a no-brainer. I went out and purchased the LaCie d2 quadra 320 GB professional hard drive with FireWire from MacMall. It works with both Mac and PC computers and weighs just over 3 pounds! Encased in metal, it can be stacked, rack mounted, or stood upright, AND you can turn it on and off. The program it uses is EMC Retrospect, which is an advanced backup and recovery software for both Mac and Windows.

You could probably set it up all by yourself. However, I’ve learned that it’s infinitely easier for me (and less stressful for anyone around me!) if I recognize my limitations- and delegate tasks involving technological expertise to someone who possesses that expertise! Mark set it up for me so that I can back up data every day of the week and back up everything on my hard drive once a week. Just before I am done for the night, I just turn on the external hard drive, find the Retrospect program icon, push a button, and let the program run. No fuss, no sweat, no difficulty hooking up the external drive (even I could do that!). And, the external drive is so light I can disconnect it and take it with me, or put it somewhere for safekeeping when I travel (no, NOT in my garage!)

If you are not backing up your data, a word to the wise is to find ANY option that works for you and just DO IT! It will save you terrible heartbreak, I promise! This relatively inexpensive option works for me! Thanks so much, Mark!!
Next week, we will continue our discussion of useful training resources. We’ll move from the technical end to a more basic issue: what to use to put things up on the walls!

This week, I said that we would continue our discussion of useful training resources, focusing on how to affix materials to walls. However, I’ve just attended a training conference and have something to say that just can’t wait. So we’ll postpone the promised discussion to next week, when you’re so groggy with Thanksgiving leftovers you won’t care, anyway!

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