Until about two years ago, I backed up important data only if I found myself waking up at night and then I didn’t do a very good job of it. Copying key folders to a file server or burning a DVD were parts of my haphazard solution. When I did need to recover a file, it was always hit-or-miss, digging through the various copies. For some projects, I did use a version control system (subversion), but the overhead and discipline required limited its use to software developments. Everything else, Office files, images, text files and email sat vulnerable to a mistake by me or a disk failure.
Then I installed Carbonite. It’s not free — it costs roughly $50 per year, but it’s so easy to use and provides so much peace of mindÂ that I don’t give the price a second thought.Â It integrates with XP as if it came with it — actually as if someone other the Microsoft designed it. Right click a file or folder to back it up or remove it from the backup and you’re done. To restore a missing file open up the Carbonite directory and select the file — you can restore it, or a previous version.
Restoring a file is not instantaneous — it can take several minutes, or even longer for a big file, but it does come back, usually faster than searching through a bunch of DVD’s or directories on a server for the right copy.
Fortunately, I’ve not yet needed to recover the entire file system ,but I did buy a new laptop and used Carbonite to transfer most of my old files. This was remarkably easy — I uninstalled Carbonite from my old laptop, installed it on the new one, registered my new laptop and the Carbonite directory appeared. It took only a few minutes to select the files I wanted restored and by the end of the day, they were all there, along with easy access to their backups.
It’s available at www.carbonite.com