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20 Feb 2014

The Best Approach to Backing up Your Indie Game’s Data

Fellas, I had a bit of a scary situation a few days ago. I was working on my desktop as usual, when all of a sudden my external hard drive made a grinding noise. It was a noise that lasted only a split second, yet it put a fear into me that made me realize one thing: backing up data is vital to ensuring you remain productive day-to-day.

Now, most of my most important work data is uploaded to an external hard drive, as well as a free Dropbox account. Unfortunately, if my external hard drive had crashed Tuesday morning, I would have had hundreds of gigabytes of data lost forever. My collection of music and podcasts I’ve collected over the years; gone. Many of my short stories I have written throughout my youth and into adulthood; gone in an instant. It was then that I knew I couldn’t afford to lose this data, which brings me to the topic of today’s post:

Back up your data. Now.

You cannot depend on hard drives to keep your data stored forever – at least not yet (and that day will probably never come). Thus, I’m going to show you the method I’m about to start using in order to make certain that every bit of data I need is safe and secure from now on. I’ve talked about this briefly in the past before, but use today’s post to really let this realization sink in. If your hard drive crashed today, many of you would be in a world of trouble and panic. Use today’s post to act as a reminder that you need to be proactive and backup your data before it’s too late.

Use an online cloud storage service

Tuesday’s revelation made me sign up for an online cloud storage service and begin backing up my hundreds of gigs of precious data. Sure, you could use Dropbox, Skydrive, Box, Google Drive, or one of the many online cloud storage services out there, but what if you have a bunch of data you really don’t need to access all the time? What if you just want the quality of mind to know that your data is constantly being backed up and nothing more?

That’s the situation I was in. I could access most of my data on my external hard drive, but in the event that it ever crashed, I wanted to be able to simply restore my data to a new external hard drive without any fuss. I’ve started using a new cloud storage service called Zoolz, and so far, it accomplishes exactly what I’m wanting: the peace of mind of knowing my data is backed up. Using a technology called ‘Cold Storage,’ Zoolz essentially compresses your data and can store an unlimited amount of data onto the new Amazon Glacier web servers for a cool (no pun intended) $2 per month. The catch? Retrieval time for your data is 3-5 hours, which is the norm with Amazon’s new Glacier servers.

Thus, if you want faster restoration speeds, you probably want to look elsewhere. But if you simply want to back up your data in the event that you may one day need to restore said data to a new drive? It’s hard to beat Zoolz’s price point.

Crashplan and Carbonite also store unlimited data for a reasonable fee, so compare the three services (and of course, keep services such as Dropbox in mind) and see which one is best for you.

A second external hard drive

My current external hard drive is getting up there in age – six years running every day, and it’s still going strong. That’s not going to last forever though, so I plan to purchase a new external hard drive with double the space, transfer all of my data from my external (where data from my internal hard drive is also backed up) onto the new external drive. Afterward, I will place it into a fire safe box where, in the event the unthinkable occurs, at least my data will be available to me locally in some capacity. I can always replace my computer, but my local data? It’s irreplaceable.

I urge you to do this as well. Backing up your data to an online cloud server is only one step in a full-proof back up process. Back up your data to the new external hard drive at least weekly so you always have an updated copy of your important data. What if you need to access your data, your current external hard drive/internal hard drive fails, and you don’t have Internet access or reliable Internet access to download your most important files? Then you need them at the local level, and that’s where a fresh, second external hard drive in a fire-proof safe comes into play.

And if you don’t have a fire-proof safe? Get one. You have important documents laying around such as a birth certificate, vehicle title, tax information, and so on right? Ensure these docs are protected from disaster, and when you put them all in a pile? Lay your external hard drive onto the top of them, close the lid, and lock it. Believe me, you’ll have an instant peace of mind.

Keys to the kingdom

You know that most important data that you have? The data that you may need to access at any moment? Store that on a USB flash drive. I have ran into moments when I need to access some data immediately, yet I was away from my computer. Guys, the easiest way to have important data with you at all times is still to carry a USB flash drive on your keychain. Be sure to encrypt it in the event that you lose it (has happened to me before), but take it from me: you’re going to feel a lot better having important data with you at all times.

Heck, if you buy a large enough flash drive, you may be able to install Unity on it and develop games where you are! USB flash drives are godsends for being productive no matter where you are, so if you don’t have one for work, get one!

Do you have any backup methods not mentioned in this post? Let us know in the comments below!

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