Lessons for 2006

Lessons Learnt

I try to keep PlanetPhillip as focused as possible on its primary content. I have a personal blog for other subjects, so it’s not too hard to keep things separate. However, sometimes things crossover and today is time for one of those “things”! I’ve had a difficult last two months and I want to quickly document the lessons I’ve learnt and hopefully you can learn from my mistakes.

Back Up

I recently lost ALL my back up files. I accept full responsibility for this but there were special circumstances. I had moved all my files onto one external HDD. It took a long time and due to space requirements I had to delete duplicates. I moved everything around on Tuesday with the intention of copying everything to DVDs on the coming weekend. On Wednesday the HDD decided to go crazy and BAM! Everything lost. The really important stuff was saved but I am sure I lost a few rare files.

The Lesson?
Always have duplicates. Preferably on different physical drives. After this experience I found a cool free application that synchronizes to folders (And all subfolders) either manually or automatically. It’s called BackUp and it’s made by Comodo, the firewall and Antivirus I use. I still backup to DVD but this is just another level.

Email

Somebody hacked my Goggle account last week and to cut a long and boring story short I lost every: ALL emails, contacts, blogger account, Analytics settings, calendar events, EVERYTHING. AT first I was really depressed but strangely I am almost relieved by it. There’s nothing I can do and Google don’t seem particularly concerned. If the information was that important I should have copied it somewhere else.

The Lesson?
Don’t rely on online email storage. I’m lucky because I have a domain (PlanetPhillip.com) so I can have as many email address as I want but I always liked the idea of accessing my email from anywhere. In reality I only did it once or twice a year. But it was the idea not the reality that appealed to me. It’s possible to use POP3 for gmail and download everything to a local computer but I thought “This is Google; they are bound to have backups if I ever need them“. I think it’s wrong of Google to offer emails services, or any other kind of service, if they can’t support it, and support means back up.

Passwords

I have a terrible and very stupid thing to admit. I make this admission in the hope that you gain from it.

I used the same password for nearly all my online accounts!

There, I’ve said it. Very stupid wasn’t it. (Past tense because now I have changed ALL my passwords to something else. I have a little note book next to the computer with everything written done. Now, this password was impossible to guess unless you knew me as a child, but that’s not the point. There are plenty of secure password managers available, in fact I am trying one called i-Vault, again by Comodo, but I think I like my notebook better.

The Lesson?
Don’t use the same password for everything. Yes, it’s a little harder having to write down different passwords but that’s better than having accounts stolen.

Conclusion

I don’t consider myself stupid and I am fairly competent regarding computers but the bottom line is I became lazy in all three points above. Please try and make sure your 2007 doesn’t contain the same mistakes!

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12 Comments

  1. Ryan "Quakis" Rouse

    Be wise to follow this. I’ve once lost several projects of mine from not backing them up, but luckily no account stolen.

  2. Kartones

    As Ryan said, make frequent backups. I lost a long time ago a beta of a graphical adventure I was making with some friends (much similar to Day of the Tentacle) and we lost everything, from scanned backgrounds and GFX to source code and game design document.

    I usually make a weekly backup of my laptop data (I’ve got 2 partitions, and the second has My Documents and such things, so I can easily copy and label each backup with a small script). In my company we use Norton Ghost.

    Anyway, we learn from everything, specially from failures, and nobody is perfect 😉

  3. About gmail I thought you make like to read this Phillip
    http://gigaom.com/2006/12/28/mom-google-ate-my-gmail/

  4. Thanks for the link. I’ve had a journalist from CBC contact me asking if I would be interested in sharing my story.

  5. CBC Thats my tax dollars hard at work 😉

  6. One other tip related to passwords:

    As well as NOT using just one for everything, don’t do what my mum was doing and write them all in a Word document named “Passwords” (each with an individual heading telling you what they are for) and keep them in a folder in My Doc’s that is also called “Passwords”.

    Glad you kept up and running despite all the grief!

  7. Well, this year has been the safest for my computer, (and believe me, I use it a lot) with a few utilites like Ewido (now AVG anti-spyware) Ad-Aware and Spybot my computer is clean as god’s underwear.

    I just use four passwords, from wich, one is for my e-mail, and the other is for my steam account (17-digit alphanumeric) and the others are the most common for forums or download pages, I keep it with numbers most of the time, oh and I have selected pr0n sites lol, so no dangerous software in my harddrive!

    As for backups I’m not that worried, I don’t have much stuff in my comp, just music and some games, college files are not that big, so nothing valuable to loose here.

    I recommend to everyone the new Ewido software AVG! http://www.ewido.net, you won’t regret the little file size, it’s worth it!

  8. Phillip, I’m glad you just didn’t end up just tossing your hands in the air & give up. I’ve never had any problems with hijacked passwords or anything. I try to keep my computer as tuned & protected as possible but, I too become lazy on some things. Just because you may not have any problems with your pc or privacy doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to you. Anyway, I’m glad you’re still here.

  9. Well, this year has been the safest for my computer, (and believe me, I use it a lot) with a few utilites like Ewido (now AVG anti-spyware) Ad-Aware and Spybot my computer is clean as god’s underwear.

    I just use four passwords, from wich, one is for my e-mail, and the other is for my steam account (17-digit alphanumeric) and the others are the most common for forums or download pages, I keep it with numbers most of the time, oh and I have selected pr0n sites lol, so no dangerous software in my harddrive!

    As for backups I’m not that worried, I don’t have much stuff in my comp, just music and some games, college files are not that big, so nothing valuable to loose here.

    I recommend to everyone the new Ewido software AVG! http://www.ewido.net, you won’t regret the little file size, it’s worth it!

    I have to agree with AfroDude here, because he speaks truth. 😎

    I do what he does, somewhat, with a couple of exceptions:

    * my truly important passwords (email, computer logins, etc) are always a complete phrase, with or without spaces or caps–in my case, I use titles of books that I’ve read, and with about 1000 books in my collection, try figuring out THAT password!! This way, you have a password that is easy to remember, long enough to confound hackers and password cracking scripts, and difficult as hell for others to figure out.

    * my not-so-important passwords (chat forums, temporary passwords for downloads, etc.) are typically simple, but typically characters from said book collection–again, easy for me to remember, but significanlty difficult for others to figure out.

    As for backups: there’s a couple of ways you can improve on what you do. One is to invest in an automated tape backup, that will do incremental backups. The other is to set up a RAID storage solution, where you have a pair (or more) of drives to handle normal data, so your response time is sped up significantly (hello, snappy HL2 loads!), with another drive there solely for mirroring/backup duties. Combine those two with each other, and you’ll never have to worry again (unless a zombie breaks in and eats your tapes).

    Lastly: switch to Linux, in case Microsoft decides to make a virus thta eats everything and forces you to “upgrade” to Vista. :-p

    Happy Holidays!

  10. about back up I really do a lot of them but to not use a lways cd-r or dvd-r I used rewitable so after I have upgrade the second version…i cleaned the first to reuse it. Don’t do this!!! RW can get easily mad so you loose everything

    I think about the password it’s perfect but why not a folder “password” with false passowrd in it you could also zip you pasword into a game folder you only know or why not using pk4 files for DOOM3.

  11. Phillip, did you ever hear from someone at Google themselves? If so, what was the outcome?

  12. No, still waiting. I have lost ALL confidence in their service. 🙁

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