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Backing Up Files
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20.2 Make Your Own Backups

As someone who has been an end user and a system administrator, I strongly believe that every user should understand the importance of backups.

NOTE: If you have data that is important to you, you should have a known backup.

Accidents and oversights happen. Tapes can be damaged, lost, or mislabeled. Assume that your system administrator is top-notch. The best administrator can recover your lost data 99 percent of the time. There is still a small chance that the files you need might not be recovered. Can you afford to duplicate months of effort 1 percent of the time? No.

An experienced user learns to be pessimistic. Typically, this important fact is learned the hard way. Perhaps a few hours are lost. Perhaps days. Sometimes months are lost.

Here are some common situations:

Gulp! I scared myself. Excuse me for a few minutes while I load a tape...

Ah! I feel better now. As I was saying, being pessimistic has its advantages.

Making a backup is easy. Get a blank tape and put a label on it. Learn how to load it onto the tape drive. Then do the following:

% cd
% tar c .

Take the tape off. Write-protect the tape (slide the tab, turn the knob, or take out the ring). That's all.

[Not quite! Bruce also points out that you can get even more protection by using a version control system like SCCS (20.12) or RCS (20.14) to save every version of a file you are updating frequently. -TOR ]

- BB

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