Data Backup – X1C, Helix, Yoga

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The backup of your data is perhaps one of the most important tasks you can perform on your Thinkpad. You are solely responsible for your own data on the Thinkpad, including backups. This is just not something anyone else can do for you.

General Recommendations for Any Backup Solution:

  • The most important aspect of any backup solution is that the data you copy or backup is actually there when you need it. This sounds much simpler than it actually is.
    • Never underestimate the power of a RESTORE TEST! Lots of people say they test their backup system, but if they only tested the backup part of the system, they really don’t have any assurance the data they backed up will actually be there when they need it most. In other words, sure the backup worked, but will the RESTORE work when you rely on it?
    • There is no worse feeling that being confident you have a good backup and finding out you do not!  
  • Always consider the main purpose(s) of your backup:
    • Disaster Planning:  You want to be sure if your hard drive crashes or you suffer other computer failures, you will have your data securely backed up and ready to restore to your new hard drive.
      • This is where you just start asking yourself what happens in your worst case scenarios and what you would do in each of those scenarios. For example, “What do I do if my computer is stolen?”, “What do I do if I back up over my computer with my car?”, “What do I do if my backup software I’ve been relying on actually corrupts the files it was backing up?”.  Just start listing those and do some checking, even some actual testing to make sure you can get your data in those cases.  
      • How often to backup? This should be an easy question for you – how much work can you / are you willing to do over?  
    • Versioning:  You want to have older versions of documents, etc. to fall back on if you make changes to the current version that cannot be redone – or the current document/file becomes corrupt.
      • For this, you will need to have multiple copies (the number depending on the number of versions you require). Just keep in mind the storage space requirement goes up incrementally with the number of backups you require – for example if you backup 100GB of data and want to keep 10 versions of all those files, you will need around 1TB of storage space.
  • Be mindful of syncing vs backing up. Many cloud options as well as some of the options that come with external hard drives offer the ability to automatically keep a group of your files in sync. This means that the changes you make to files will be synced up to that external cloud location or drive. This also means that you will not have a copy of any previous versions of those files/folders. This is usually just fine and often a preferred “set it and forget it” method of keeping your files backed up. However, just be sure you know which way your selected method works before relying on it.

Three Main Types of Backups:

  • External Drive: This is the recommended choice for your Thinkpad.
    • The drives are extremely reasonable in price for large amounts of storage.
    • Many times your new external hard drive will include some sort of free backup/sync application to keep your data synced up with the drive. Use these at your own risk – we have not tested all these options and cannot recommend or warn against any particular application.
    • We do not recommend the use of USB Flash Drives for backup purposes as they are too small, too easily lost and too fragile to rely on as your fallback copy of important data.  
  • Cloud Storage: There are many online (cloud) storage vendors out there as well.
    • The issue to keep in mind when considering a cloud solution is security and privacy. If you have protected student or other data on your Thinkpad, you very well may not want to have it stored with one of these cloud vendors.
    • One vendor, Spider Oak, has undergone limited testing on campus and appears to be a very good solution at this point. They have an impressive security model they refer to as a “zero-knowledge” model. This means that the only knowledge they maintain about your data is how many data blocks your data is taking up on their servers. Your password is never stored as part of your data on their servers. This also means that there is no way to recover your password – if you forget it, your data will be inaccessible because the vendor cannot recover your password for you. So BE SURE and remember the password you use with SpiderOak. While proving to be a promising secured online storage system, SpiderOak is not officially recommended by Wake Forest at this time.  
  • Optical Media Storage: Because the X1 Carbon, Yoga and Helix do not come with a DVD drive, you would need to purchase an external drive – they are not expensive, so feel free to use this method if you prefer.
    • While this used to be the recommended option here at Wake Forest, the typical amount of user data stored by faculty and staff has quickly made this one of the least common options. It simply requires too many discs and too much time.
    • This is still a very good method to keep a “permanent” copy of your data.
    • Use DVD-R discs and make sure they are closed (sessions not left open) – this is set in your burning software. If the sessions are left open, the discs will not be readable in other computers.

Generally, Wake Forest University does not provide storage for your backups. This means it’s all up to you or your department to provide that storage space.

Instructions for Backing Up To External Hard Drive:

1.  Close ALL applications on your Thinkpad. If you have an application or file open, chances are it will not be backed up successfully.

2.  Open Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer) on your Thinkpad. Holding down the WIN key (between left CTRL and left ALT) and pressing E is a great shortcut to open your folders/files.

3.  Once you are in your Windows Explorer window, use the left pane to navigate to your data location (C:\Users\{username}. See the section below discussing the change in data location on the X1 Carbon. 

4.  Use CTRL+A to select all folders & files in the C:\Users\{username} folder.

5.  Copy all folders & files to the clipboard. You can either right-click on the selected folders and select COPY or you can just use CTRL+C to copy the selected folders & files.

6.  Navigate to your external hard drive in Windows Explorer (see below). 

7.  Create a folder that includes today’s date in the title (for example, “backup_062112″).

8.  To create a folder, right-click on an empty space in the right pane and select NEW –> FOLDER, then just give it a name. 9.  Open the folder you just created by double-clicking on it. 10.  Paste all the folders/files you copied to the clipboard earlier here. 

    • Right-click and select PASTE.
    • Or use CTRL-V to paste folders/files.

You may get warnings about files that cannot be backed up in this folder. There are several system files in this folder that cannot be backed up. When the warnings come up, just have it SKIP those files. 

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