A couple of years ago, a comment string on Reddit about sloppy backup habits evolved into an effort to alert the world to the need for diligent and thorough data backup. A few Reddit users declared the last day of March World Backup Day. The date was selected tongue in cheek to fall just before April Fool’s Day. The obvious implication: If you don’t back up your data today, you’ll feel a fool tomorrow
The goal of World Backup Day is to put “save your data” right up there with “save the whales”. Visitors to the website are encouraged to sign up and help spread the word. The movement seems to be getting some traction in the blogosphere. The founders are getting a little press and they have a trademarked logo. It remains to be seen if the general public and business community will catch on.
FYI: As of this posting World Backup Day is not listed in Wikipedia, though it does appear in a list under the subject Awareness day.
Bits and bytes are fragile things. More fragile than ink and paper. As any fascist dictator will tell you, it takes a while to burn a book. Vast stores of digital data, on the other hand, can be wiped out in the blink of an eye. Faster, actually.
Bits and bytes are also far more susceptible to corruption. If an old fashioned typesetter dropped a typesetting tray he might strew a few thousand metal letters on the floor. A faulty instruction set in a data program could potentially scramble millions, billions or even trillions of characters with no hope of reassembly. Due to that less-than-endearing attribute of digital data, backup has been a vital new literacy since the birth of the computer. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most commonly ignored, misunderstood and prone to procrastination of all the digital literacies.
Common ways of losing data include theft, hardware failure, obsolete file formats, flawed storage media, accidents, natural disasters and unnatural disasters, such as a flood of cola onto a keyboard. The ways to avoid disaster are equally diverse, including local external drives, a variety of storage media, cloud storage services and offsite backup services such as Dropbox and SugarSync.
Even so, individuals, and a surprising number of companies, lose valuable data every day due to backup illiteracy.
World Backup Day is not as visible or as well-supported as some other initiatives, such as National Cyber Security Month, but it is still worthy of attention. Anything that gooses people and companies to follow a backup regimen is a good thing.
There is one caveat. In what might prove an ill-advised strategic move, the founders of World Backup Day have secured sponsors that sell, you guessed it, backup storage solutions. This year the event is sponsored by Backblaze and Code42 Software. Promotional offers for the services, and more than a half dozen others, are featured prominently on the World Backup Day site.
That choice does not lessen the importance of the message, but it does corrupt the file a bit.