Journal: News & Comment

Friday, October 11, 2002
# 8:10:00 AM:

Improving backup

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In an article about backing up your data from July 2000, which I just re-posted below, I wrote:

...unless they're selling you a fairly high-end server, computer and operating system manufacturers [...] don't make it easy to reliably back up your system out of the box. Yeah, they'll chuck in a DVD drive and a free movie, but how about a tape drive or CD-R drive and a Backup Configuration Assistant that runs the first time you fire up the machine?

Things aren't that far along yet, but they're improving. Apple still isn't including backup software with their operating system, but if you buy their ".mac" service, you can download a program called Backup that does the basics, and can use the included 100 MB iDisk Internet storage for offsite backups of small amounts of stuff (like your e-mail).

Hard disk maker Maxtor is producing external plug-in drives that will back up and synchronize data with your PC or Mac with the touch of a button. And these drives are big enough -- 80 GB to 250 GB, bigger than the stock drives in the vast majority of personal computers today -- to hold everything on your machine.

To jump to another hobby horse, I'd like to note that things would be much, much worse if someone years ago had managed to patent the whole idea of backups -- and patent offices have allowed sillier things. Luckily, the concept of backing up is public domain, like (as columnist Andrew Cassel notes) the ideas of loose-fit khakis, adjustable-rate mortgages, Thai-French fusion cuisine, emoticons, fabric and apparel designs, and coconut-mocha lattes.

Like him -- and even though I work in the copyright-heavy industries of writing and music -- I'm beginning to think the whole idea of copyright and patent protection needs serious re-examination. Or maybe elimination. Because, you know, Shakespeare and others did okay without them.


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