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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Backup Strategies

June 20th, 2009 11 comments

With my primary hard drive (a three-year old WD Raptor WD740) having been on life support, so to speak, for the last 3 months, I’ve been a lot more diligent about keeping backup copies of my data. Every couple of days, I log out entirely and run a simple rsync script to copy my entire /home directory to a specialized partition on my secondary disk, which I keep at /mnt/backup for simplicity sake.

While its parameter handling can be a bit quirky, I find that it is extremely useful for two reasons: The first more or less negates its quirky parameter handling: Clear and thorough documentation, with lots of example program calls  The second is that it saves me a lot of time in copying the files. Similar to the DeltaRPM feature I raved about with Fedora 11, it copies over only the changed content instead of the entire directory tree. With my home directory at nearly 20 GB, incrementally updating my backup like this prevents a good 90+% of the data from needing to be copied again.

In this way, I know that I have at least two copies of my data at any given time. A major plus to copying the directory tree as-is is that, once the drive does die and I replace it, I merely need to copy it over, without changing anything or unpacking huge tarballs and applying diffs, et al.

The disadvantage to this is that I only have one consistent backup copy of my data at a given time, and that backup is on a hard drive in the same computer. So, should there be a massive system failure of some sort (knock on wood!), then I would lose my data for certain. I also intend to purchase CD-RWs for this purpose – that is, as an additional backup medium – in the near future. But for right now, the second on-disk copy suffices. I also want to setup a RAID system in my next computer build…but that’ll have to wait. 🙂

So this simple rsync method, as with any storage decision, has its benefits and downfalls:
Pros:

  • Easy to configure;
  • Can be automatically run (e.g., in a cron job);
  • Updates occur via content deltas, not full copies;
  • Backup data is “as-is”, and can be used immediately after copying.

Cons:

  • Only one backup copy;
  • Physical proximity to original data;
  • Requires space for an entire duplicate of the directory tree.

For me, though, this method works out well. Do others have a similar system? Would you suggest any improvements/simplifications? I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter! Thanks.

Introduction to College

February 10th, 2009 4 comments

I’m alive and well, I swear! Schoolwork and other life issues have swamped me quite efficiently over these past couple of weeks; but I’m okay!

While searching for backpack recommendations on the Gentoo Off-The-Wall forums, I came to an interesting thread from a couple years ago entitled, Going to college. I’d like a How-to survive your first year.

I very much concur with just about every piece of advice in that thread; and it inspired me to expound on a lot of those tips as well as to add my own. For that purpose, I’ve decided to post them on this blog in a somewhat-regular [hopefully] fashion. On this vein, Welcome to the first-ever edition of my College Survival Guide!

Today, we’re going to discover one of the most important things about college life: College and High School are two totally and completely separate things.

Now, this may seem fairly obvious to many readers, as I can imagine they have already been through these experiences and know what I’m referring to; but there are those who still treat their studies as if it were really still not yet collegiate-level work. (Trust me; I’ve met a great many number of people like this.) For the majority of readers that believe this, it is something that doesn’t seem to be so incorrect at a glance: It’s just more school…why should it be any different?

The answer to that, of course, is quite simple: For most people, college is the first time in his or her life that one is on one’s own for so many things. Among many other reasons, it is this shift of responsibility to the student (from teachers, tutors, guardians, and others) that may be fairly overwhelming at first. More often than not, the student becomes responsible for not just the learning, but the homework, transportation, food, socialization, et al. Many of the things which had been simply given to the student or scheduled for him/her are now no longer done so. Instead, the student oversees his own education – from scheduling of one’s classes to preparing meals for oneself and – for better or worse – having far more control over one’s life.

Now, I know many (and myself am among those) who as college students still live with their parents and so much of this responsibility (for example, basic housework) is often not as drastically redistributed to the student. However, the responsibilities are still quite prevalent: especially of classwork and transportation. I still live with my parents, for example; but it is my responsibility – and mine alone – to ensure that I wake up and have a decent breakfast everyday. It is also mine to ensure that I get to class on time everyday: making sure I leave enough leeway in my scheduling to walk from my house to the bus stop as well as from the bus stop on campus to the classroom buildings (which, for my major courses, are almost on opposite sides of the campus, thank you very much whoever had THAT brilliant idea) as well as vice-versa when I return home. One can be living with their parents yes (which is probably a good idea for most beginning students, from a strictly economical perspective); but that should not imply that they are any less responsible for their own well-being.

Well, that’s about it for today. In the next issue of the College Survival Guide, we’ll discover some highly beneficial patterns in scheduling one’s classes. Join us next time for more tips and advice from the College Survival Guide!