Note The root user cannot by default connect through ssh Although it is possible to override this it is not recommended so create a new user create the ssh key for them and use their crontab to initiate the daily backup

Although this solves the problems for Linux and MacOS users, there still needs to be a solution for Windows. If you can afford the time, preparing rsync on Windows can be worthwhile. Alternatively, you might want to instill best practices into the family by introducing a manual backup solution that requires them to do something to back up their work. This is one area in which Subversion scores higher, because the workflow encourages this automatically. What can be done instead is to create a writable SMB shared area on the network that is accessible to everyone, and it is their responsibility to add their files to it every night before bed. You can then use rsync to back up this network folder remotely. There are several free and shareware utilities for Windows that provide the copy-based backup necessary for the first step.

Of course, everything I've said assumes that you're storing your data at home. In most cases that will be true, but it is now easier than ever to buy space on a remote server (through Amazon's S3, for example, with a virtual machine), which means you never need to back up. Of course, backups are still being done (by the automated tools and support staff at the server provider), but they're transparent to you.9

In the cases of external storage, you would only want to store data that was fairly small in size since streaming a full movie from a remote server would be unwatchable, and having to wait until it had downloaded would be equally annoying and defeat the purpose. These situations are beneficial in some cases because they mean no personal data is ever stored at home. So if a burglar steals your laptop, you haven't lost the novel you've been working on.

Some people prefer to protect their private data in public, by using services such as Flickr, Google Docs, and YouTube. The situation is the same as earlier with the exception that, being free services, there are fewer warranties about loss of data. Indeed, Google Mail has a personal storage limit of just over 7GB, which allows you to back up your data by saving them as attachments in your mail account! Or by using gmailfs.

There is also the possibility of backing up the physical items in your home, namely, your media. Although the importance in CDs and DVDs is in the packaging, it is possible to save the contents by ripping them (as we covered in Chapter 3) onto external hard disks and placing the drives themselves in storage, either held with friends, with family, or in a professional safe. You could probably arrange a pairing scheme with suitably technical friends who will store your collection of discs in return for you keeping theirs. The same pairing idea works if you both rsync your media to each other during quiet periods of network traffic, such as during the night, for example.

As a paranoid geek, I would personally make my own backups periodically, in addition to those made by someone else.

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