How to safely store our data?

On 20170515, I discovered that two of my Western Digital external hard disks could not be detected by my asus laptop [1]!

Then, on 20170529, my engineer brother told me that the hard disk in his Mac book was spoilt and he lost his undergraduate data, but he did not care as he has a back-up of the essential ones. Learning from his lesson, he acquired a solid state drive albeit at higher price.

Surprisingly, I was more concerned of my large size visual data (photos and videos of loved ones) than my raw work data that I have not had a chance to analyze. At least, I learned that I have subconsciously prioritized people and posterity over career.

Remember that nothing is permanent

Storage media doesn’t last forever; modern/future software/hardware [4] might not be able to read old files stored in old storage media (e.g. floppy disks, DVD drives are going the way of the floppy).  Any hard drive in active use is essentially a ticking bomb.

Backup regularly

There is no substitute for diligence. Ideally, one should do backup daily, but it will take too much time to copy from our laptop to an external hard disk. For my work-related stuff, I have been using dropbox. For my personal and family visual data, I plan to back up at least quarterly hence I could detect any possible problem and the need to upgrade.

Create multiple back-ups

For the peace of mind, create multiple back-ups at computers (laptops, hard disks, mobile phones) and different locations to survive e.g. fire hazard, earthquake, flood, extreme weather (desert heat) etc.
Diversify our storage methods, and note that the best gear we have today will be obsolete in a few years.

Use cloud storage.
I have been using cloud storage for my work and surprisingly they are more reliable than local storage, provided I have an internet access.
To be careful [2], we can modify the permission for accessing our data in the cloud storage.

Honestly, I was disappointed when Picasa was retired. Since then, I have been using google drive with my multiple google accounts as the max quota is 15GB for a free account.

I am thankful to WordPress for backing-up my thought, aspirations and memories. I have favored WordPress over Blogger since 2007! In my first WordPress, I documented my life as I worked hard to obtain a PhD. I hope that WordPress will last for as long as possible.

After we have done our best to back-up our data, relax.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, enjoying and cherishing our life is much more important than worrying for the lost or missed data [3].
Cherish now and here [5].

Constantly learn new technology.
While nothing is future proof, I believe that in the near future, there will be an affordable device that can keep our data. However, our data will also increase faster, what a bidirectional competition between supply and demand!


[1] Surprisingly, on 2017050 both hard disks “winter2011_data” and “winter2015_ja_data” could be detected by my asus laptop (I only switched on the electricity after I connected the USB cable); the previous time I succeeded to write into “winter2015_ja_data” was on 20170329. However, I know that they are very vulnerable as an external hard disk is very prone to losing data. For example, while copying a folder halfway to “winter2011_data”, my laptop could not detect it again, perhaps I was browsing some data in the hard disk. A lesson here is not to do anything while copying into the fragile external hard disk!

[2] The criteria for storing cloud storage:

  • Will there be a financial hazard (do not store information that allows other to login to your internet banking, use your credit cards)?
  • Will it matter if one day the data becomes public?
  • Will it matter if one day the data is lost?

[3] I remember how I was too busy taking photos that I had less time to enjoy my first North America trip in Summer 2005, however I have not returned there until today (20170530).

[4] This is also a reminder for me not to archive the data (rar, tar, 7z, etc) since the software to extract the archive may become obsolete.

[5] I am pondering of taking less pictures from Summer 2017 because taking too many pictures may spoil our memories of important memories, but I strive to take carefully-composed photos for special moments such as birthdays, celebrations, explorations, and trips.

When Little Prince and I visited Spain in Spring 2017, due to my back ache and the need to carry medicine, I gave up carrying my faithful Nikon SLR (she has traveled with me to numerous countries since 2010, capturing the growth of both Little Prince and Little Princess, generating countless pictures and precious memories).

Nevertheless, we still generated over 15 GB of data (over 1600 files) from our Barcelona stay. This amount of big data (big to me) is in contrast to my first Europe trip in Summer 2004, where I spent more days in Europe but generated only less than 0.75 GB of data. At that time, I had no laptop, intended to travel light (but managed to carry a tripod for selfie without bordering too many people), and was careful enough for composing every shot in order not to overload my limited memory cards.


  1. […] books, and he asked if he could put his books in my plastic container of books. Then, I remembered my removable hard disk was in a suitcase in our car, and I wanted to move it to this container so that it would not be […]


  2. […] After dinner, I continued copying files to a My Book Western Digital 4TB hard disk (spring2017*). The loud sound from the hard disk made me worried and few files were unsuccessfully backed-up. Some folders (e.g China2010*, Europe2008_2011*, Europe2015*, Turkey2010*, etc) are missing files in the spring2017* hard disk, which serves only as a back-up hard disk. I don’t have to organize things in the spring2017* hard disk, as long as I have copied a majority of files, I could feel secured. […]


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