Saturday Night Backup Fever, Internet Apocalypse Now

If you use a computer and/or the Internet you might want to think twice about heading to the disco or the movies or whatever else you had planned for this Saturday night and spend the evening backing up your data instead. Why? Three reasons, starting with the fact that today is World Backup Day. Sure, World Backup Day is not as well-known as other days, like World Prayer Day, Earth Day, or even International Talk Like a Pirate Day; but it may be just a matter of time. After all, March 31, 2012 is only the second World Backup Day. Here’s what the press release from says:

World Backup Day began it’s inaugural celebration in 2011 by a few concerned users on just a week before March 31st. After a fast and furious week of developing and designing, the World Backup Day holiday was born on March 31st. It was a hit in the tech industry with virtually all tech news sources reporting on World Backup Day. For 2012, World Backup Day has partnered with many media partners to promote the holiday. This is just the beginning for World Backup Day. World Backup Day will continue to grow and promote regular data backups.

In case, you haven’t had enough coffee yet this Saturday and failed to make the connection: World Backup Day is set to be one day before April Fool’s Day. Hence the slogan: Don’t be an April Fool. Backup your data.

And there you have the second of the three reasons to consider spending your Saturday night backing up your computer, and smartphone, and tablet: Weird things happen on April Fool’s Day, some of which could be damaging to your data. If you are wondering just how to do your backup, my colleague Aryeh Goretsky has created an easy-to-read guide to your Options for backing up your computer (free .pdf, no registration required). In just 11 pages, Aryeh covers both backup technology and strategy for the consumer and small/home office.

The third reason to consider staying this Saturday evening to do your backup that one of the weird things that might happen on this April Fool’s Day concerns a shadowy group of self-proclaimed hackers who have talked about shutting down the Internet tomorrow (there is comprehensive coverage of this threat and the wider topic of hactivism here and of the technical aspects here). Personally, I don’t think that the Internet will go down this April 1, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the challenge that the very idea of an Internet shutdown poses to an increasingly popular form of data storage and backup: The Cloud.

In fact, some people first got to know The Cloud as online backup. Services like Mozy and Carbonite have been around for some time, offering the ability to send a copy of your data over the Internet to someone else’s much bigger computer for safe-keeping, and getting it back from there if your own copy gets damaged or go missing.

A more recent variation on online storage is to use the Internet to enter your data into documents that are born and stored on someone else’s computer, notably Google Docs. I know of some companies that have no file servers and very little local data storage in their offices because all of their reports, presentations, and spreadsheets are on Google Docs. I’m thinking that this World Backup Day might be a good time to pull down local copies of all that stuff “just in case.” Go into Google Docs and:

  1. Click the checkbox(es) next to the item(s) that you’d like to download.
  2. Expand the More drop-down menu and select Download…
  3. Select a file format to which you’d like convert and download your item, such as Microsoft Word. When multiple items have been selected, they’ll be compressed into a .zip file
  4. Click Download

Note that if you try to export more than 2 GB at a time, you’ll see a message from Google with a list of files that aren’t included in the zip file. An alternative is to use a piece of software that will back up all your Google docs at once. One example is Backup Goo which comes in three flavors: Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. (Disclaimer: use at your own risk, I have not tested it yet as my own Google docs take up less than 2 GB.)

I know it’s Saturday, so I will keep this short by avoiding speculation about the threatened demise of the Internet. I have no doubt that the “right” combination of talent and numbers could bring the Internet to its knees. I personally doubt that will happen this year and there are some good reasons to think it won’t ever happen. But I am sure there will be, if not tomorrow then fairly soon, one or more of the following: earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other data-damaging acts of god and man. I truly hope you don’t experience any of them, but if you do, you will be glad you have backups.

Stephen Cobb
ESET Security Expert

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s