Keep Your Data Safe in 2013 with Dropbox’s Packrat Feature

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From now until 2013, we’re taking a look at some New Year’s Resolutions and Gear Diary ways to help keep them.

New Year Resolution: Protect Your Data in 2013

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This is one of those lessons you learn, forget, and then learn again once a data-loss disaster strikes. Here’s my story, and why DropBox’s PackRat feature is my new best friend.

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I have spent the last year on and off creating an interactive iBook that can be used by all my Bar Mitzvah students to help them study toward becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. The iBook has the prayers the students must learn read, sung and read line by line with the text of each line next to the audio. With this book on an iPad, the students can always have a tutor with them. In addition, the book has all the material the parents need that we have historically handed out. The goal is to have a better learning tool; one that is easily and freely distributed, as well as moving my synagogue evermore in the direction of being paperless. Side note: We recently became the first reform synagogue in the U.S. to attain certification for environmental leadership from GreenFaith, a nationally recognized interfaith environmental coalition.

After working on the project on and off for over a year (an hour here and there over and over really adds up…), I finally got it to the point where I was ready to upload it to the iBookStore.

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It took a few tries, but the first iteration is currently available for free through iBooks. An update that fixes a ton of formatting issues is awaiting Apple’s approval (it was delayed because of the holiday hiatus).

Okay that’s the setup. Here’s the crisis that was barely averted.

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On Christmas Day, I was running out of space on my MacBook ProR. I erased a ton of stuff, and YES, without realizing it I erased all of my copies of the last year’s work. I looked at TimeMachine backup, and the file wasn’t there to recover.


Over a year’s worth of work — hundreds of hours — gone.

Then I realized it wasn’t there because I stored it in DropBox, and I don’t make a TimeMachine backup of my DropBox folder. Or more accurately… I didn’t; now I sure do.

I went to DropBox, selected “show deleted files” (they keep all files 30 days ), and … there is was. A few taps later, and the deleted file — did I mention hundreds of hours of work? — was back.

I’ve loved DropBox ever since I began using it, but now have even more reason to love it; and it gets better.

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DropBox now has a Packrat feature. For $39 a year, the service will keep all deleted files, not just thirty day’s worth; I paid for it and think it is $39 well spent.

So here’s my plan going forward. I’m going to start keeping pretty much every file in DropBox from now on. That way, no matter where I am or what device I am using, I will always have access to the files I need. I’m going to start including DropBox in my TimeMachine backups, AND, I’ll keep paying for the Packrat feature. That means all my files will be TimeMachine backed up AND DropBox backed up. In an electronic world, redundancy is your friend. In 2013 DropBox is one way terrific way to keep your data safe.

Not using DropBox? Learn more here.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

3 Comments on "Keep Your Data Safe in 2013 with Dropbox’s Packrat Feature"

  1. Whew! Amazing story – and a reminder that there are good reasons to make use of all of that free storage we get tossed our way … and even better reasons to pick one of the key cloud storage players such as DropBox and make it a backup priority!

  2. If I lost a years worth of work, I might have punched a hole in something. Or tried to, anyway. Can’t believe how close you came to disaster.

  3. My laptop died in September and I lost some files. Since then, I rely heavily on DropBox for work and personal info. The Packrat feature looks interesting!

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