How many of you can put your hands up and say that if your hard disk gets damaged or stolen today, will you have enough backups to recover everything you want to? Or will you loose all the images you've work so hard on, except for the jpgs on your website?

For those in the UK, I noticed that the price of 500GB USB hard drives has now fallen to 75 at my local PC World.

I took the opportunity this weekend to install one of these at home. Now my rather confusing backup system (which involved several different computers) is replaced by a simple nightly scheduled task which makes sure my new USB Hdd has a up to date copy of everything on all my other HDDs. I use xxcopy command line.

Hands up who can recover ALL their raw file, images, etc if their Hard Disk dies today?

After years of astronomy I've got over 50GB of astrophotography related file on my hard disk. Personally I don't have the time or energy (or long term faith in the medium) to keep cutting stuff to DVDs... with a USB HDD it is everything, all my raw images, all those giant photoshop files, everything is safely backuped.

I've also backed up the entire 40GB hard disk on the observatory computer. God only knows how many carefully setup and configured programs are on the computer. If the hard disk goes bang, it would be back to stage one trying to work out the settings for the autoguiding software! Nice to have it backed up.

DVDs and CDs don't last forever. No backup medium lasts for ever, so it is important to periodically review how you are doing backups and take advantage of new techniologies. It won't be long before we are getting 1TB USB hardisks for 75. I also don't thnk it will be many years before USB memory sticks and the like expand to the multi-century Gigbyte capacity. Soon we will be able to carry around all the raw files we have ever taken. Stored on something smaller than mobile phone. Won't that be useful! :-)

Just a little reminder for us all. There are lots of fun and interesting things to spend our pocket money on in the world of astronomy, but sometimes it is worth spending money on the boring things. It is nice that this reminder takes the form of a special offer in a local shop rather than a tale of stife and woe and data recovery.