I should be working on Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, or blogging about the development of that project – which I think is a hell of a lot better than anything I’ve tried yet. Possibly, I should be blogging about the fact that I just left a workplace that I happen to like a lot for a new adventure (this was emotional for me and has rather consumed me for a few days now).
Instead, I’m going to muse on backups and document sharing. This rant will be a lot shorter than the other two in the set. If you’ve read tools #1 and tools #2, you’ll know my writing setup consists of an Ubuntu Linux laptop and a MacMini desktop that I rarely get to use because reasons. I’m mostly using LibreOffice and Scrivener. A big mash-up right? How can I possibly keep all that straight, and more importantly how am I going to move documents back and forth – e-mail?
Another question that filters in here is how to I keep my work safe? What if my computer is stolen, or thrown into the duck pond? OR the geese eat it!
There are options – to deal with both of these concerns, actually. Most of which aren’t ideal with Linux.
The two categories are the cloud, and something else.
The cloud options consist of things like dropbox. If you’re like me, you think that the cloud is just another way for very large corporations to suck money out of you without providing you something you couldn’t have done just as well on your own. That said, there is some comfort in knowing that if your house burns down tomorrow, all of your writing work will be spared. If not going with a cloud option, for backups and what-not, there are a couple of choices.
The first choice in home-backups would be thumb-drives. In fact, this was my primary backup system for some time. They’re easy, portable, and cheap. However, they’re also not the most stable medium in the world. If you don’t spend enough money on one, you are looking at a potentially high failure rate. Imagine that your thumb-drive containing all of your work fails. Well, that would truly stink. There’s nothing more irritating than a failed thumb-drive. Imagine if your thumb-drive is bad AND your hard-drive fails, or worse, you’ve forgotten to backup your work in a few weeks and your computer spontaneously bursts into flames. It’s pretty unlikely so I expect this is a pretty good choice for backups. After all, they’re back ups, not primary storage. However, for me, that’s only half the story. What if I want access to my stuff from multiple places and I don’t want to have to try and work out version control on a thumb drive?
Next possible option is to get one of those fancy routers with a USB port that you can plug a portable hard drive into. This would kill 2 birds. I get portability AND a certain amount of backup, excepting for a couple of issues. The first is that I’ve got to fight Linux to make it work. Fortunately, I’m a reasonably smart guy and can probably make it work, plus Ubuntu has a fairly robust community. Problem solved right? No. Now I don’t have remote access to my files, and the portable hard drive connected to my router is the primary storage for my files, meaning that I still don’t have a back-up. This still leaves thumb-drives, which I’m ALWAYS forgetting to use anyhow.
Alright, let’s consider ‘cloud’ solutions. To be clear I do not like the ‘cloud’ it’s a word that IT managers use when they’re too stupid to implement their own, more effective and cheaper solutions. Don’t argue with me on this one, it’s a position I won’t budget from unless clear evidence can be produced to the contrary. HOWEVER, for certain applications, it has an appeal. First off, let’s discuss problems. One being security. How do I know that if I dump my files on to some cloud service that they’ll be secure? In general, you can’t. This is the reason I won’t use Dropbox. Another problem? Cost. Many of these services have monthly fees associated with them. Yet another is constant network access. So why consider it then? Because there are a few services out there that have encryption so intense that if you lose your password, don’t expect to ever see your files again (something I generally approve of), second, if you set it up right, you won’t need remote access, you’ll have copies on your local computer. The remote cloud stuff is just a backup. So, we just achieved two benefits. This is good. As for cost? Well, there are services that will back-up a certain amount for free, and for someone like me, the free amount is enough.
So, in spite of my deep-seated prejudices against ‘the cloud’, I’ve found a cloud-based service that works just fine. To date, I haven’t experienced any problems with it. Is this the best solution? Probably not. The best might be to develop my own back-up service that goes to a locally hosted RAID array. Yes I could do this, but it would cost a lot and take a lot of time. As a result, I’m sticking with my setup for now. Am I going to recommend what you should use? That would be an emphatic no. You have to do what makes you comfortable and works for you. Same as all of the other tools.