There are three types of data maintenance that I should be doing on a regular basis:

  1. Backup - duplicating the current version of my active documents
  2. Cloning - cloning my entire main harddisk to backup drive that is a similar size and format. This copies the operating system files and applications in such a way that they 'just work' on the backup drive. In the event of a main disk error or crash, I simply slot in the backup drive, restore to it my latest working files and carry on working.
  3. Archive - transferring little used documents to a large low-value[*] store, so reducing my active backup footprint (for 1 and 2).

[*] Every piece of storage has a cost associated with it. Data is more expensive to store on my laptop because the 2.5" drive(s) cost(s) more per gigabyte. 3.5" drives in my server machine are cheaper and have a larger capacity.

Broadly 1 should be automatic and instantaneous (e.g. Dropbox (, 2 should be done monthly and 3 when I start using more than 50% of the main drive.