Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Why You Should Backup Your Log - NOW!

Don't Put This Off - DO IT NOW!
Have you given any thought to what would happen if you were to lose your log?  Think of those THOUSANDS of QSO's and data that are contained in your log.  Do you keep track of Grid Squares, States, IOTA, Counties, names of operators worked, QSL Sent / Received status, comments about those QSO's, other notes, etc.?  What if all that information and those memories simply disappeared?  FOREVER!

Well, that happened last week to WVDXA member, Jimmy Aeiker, W8JA.  Jimmy had QSO's in his log going back to the 1960's.  Over 11,000 QSO's!  And suddenly, they were GONE!

Jimmy's computer got hit by a virus and he had it taken to a local computer repair shop to be repaired.  That shop ran an automated virus removal program to clean up the hard drive and, unfortunately, that removal program did not recognize Jimmy's logging program, Logger32, as a valid program.  It thought Logger32 was a virus and it removed the program PLUS everything in that folder.

Jimmy called me in a panic and we did a conference call with the computer technician.  I gave the tech the file names he needed to look for in order to help Jimmy recover his data.  Jimmy had Logger32 set to make sequential backups of his data every time the program was shut down so he was hopeful that the data was saved in a ZIP file. 

Monday Jimmy called to say he had the computer back and the tech had placed the files he recovered on the desktop.  Tuesday I visited Jimmy's QTH and attempted to put his logbook back together.

Simply stated I was able to load a new version of Logger32 and, using my own Logger32.ini file, get Jimmy's Logger32 back to pretty much where it should be - minus the log data.  However, after going through 35+ files left by the computer tech, ALL those ZIP files were EMPTY!  We had struck out!  NONE OF HIS LOG DATA WAS LEFT!

At this point I told Jimmy that I could recover the basic info for the QSO's he had uploaded to Logbook of the World (LoTW) but that data was limited to DATE, TIME, BAND, MODE, and CALL.  NOTHING MORE!

That meant that if I downloaded all the QSO info from Logbook of the World, Jimmy would not have any of the data he had previously recorded in his log for Grid Squares, States, IOTA, Counties, names of operators worked, QSL Sent / Received status, comments about those QSO's, other notes, etc.  That data would be all GONE FOREVER!

USB Thumb Drives Come in Various Shapes and Sizes
While Jimmy was digesting this bad news, he was trying to find SOME way to make it not be TRUE!  He suggested the fact that his log had been uploaded to Clublog but I told him that I believed Clublog stripped out all that extra data and just kept the basic 5 items.

Then, that "Light Bulb" came on above my head and I started searching Jimmy's hard drive.  Under "C:\Ham Radio\Logs\Clublog Uploads" I FOUND the last ADIF file Jimmy had uploaded to Clublog.  It was of his FULL LOG up to July 5, 2018!  Within 2 minutes I had loaded that ADIF file into Logger32 and VIOLA! NEARLY all of Jimmy's logbook was safely back in Logger32! WHEW! 

The last QSO in that ADIF file agreed with the last QSO he had uploaded to LoTW.  Any QSO's after July 5th were NOT in the ADIF file, had NOT been uploaded to LoTW, and were NOT backed up since the Logger32 daily backup ZIP files were empty.  Thus, any QSO's he had made after July 5, 2018, were LOST FOREVER!

You can't imagine the expression on Jimmy's face when he saw all that data back in his Logger32 logbook.  Heck, I was grinning wide enough to hurt my own cheeks!

This happy ending occurred simply because of an amazing stroke of LUCK!  Not, planning!  That file could have so easily been removed by the computer tech or by the virus itself.  Nothing but LUCK saved these 11,000+ QSO's worth of data!

Jimmy HAD a good plan to prevent this - in the past!  He subscribed to an online (cloud) backup service called Carbonite (  All the files on his last computer were uploaded to Carbonite daily.  BUT, when he got his new computer, he failed to enable the Carbonite backup!  Critical error!  (BTW, he NOW has the Carbonite backup back in place on his current computer!)

I told Jimmy, it is not a question of "Will my hard drive fail?"  Instead, it's a question of "WHEN will it fail?"  All hard drives will fail - that's a given!  Plan and prepare for that fact NOW!!!  Jimmy laughed and said, "That's exactly what the computer tech told me!"

So, here is my advice to you (I recommend that you do this NOW!)

Backup your log on a REGULAR basis (DAILY!)
Backup the data somewhere that is NOT on your Hard Drive!
   1.   Use a Cloud Service like Carbonite or FREE services like Dropbox ( or Google Drive (
   2.   Backup the data to a USB Thumb Drive and REMOVE the drive after you store the backup - Use the "Safely Remove Hardware" icon in the System Tray to safely remove the USB Drive.
   3.   Send the log data to yourself in a web-based email program like Gmail, Hotmail, MSN, etc.

HECK - use ALL or more than one of the above!  Belt AND suspenders!
NOT a Good USB Thumb Drive!

While you are backing up the basic log data, don't forget things like the initialization (.ini) files for your logging program, your CW/RTTY/Data Macros, etc.  No need to have to "re-invent the wheel" WHEN your hard drive crashes!  And it should go without saying, any documents, photos, or other files that you would be upset to lose should be backed up at the same time.  Data on your hard drive is FRAGILE and can disappear in a heartbeat!  Last year the contractor who built my house had his hard drive crash.  It had all the financial data for his entire business.  I helped him try to recover it but in the end, it had to be sent to a firm in California and it cost him over $2,000 to recover the data!  (Yes, I had recommended he use an online backup service like Carbonite when I helped him set up the computer but he failed to follow through on that suggestion.)

It is equally important to backup your Logbook of the World Certificate, otherwise, you have to start that process all over to be able to use the LoTW system.  Click HERE for instructions on how to save your LoTW Certificate.

Jimmy KNOWS how lucky he was this time.  I am really sure it won't happen to him again!  He suggested that I write this Post so that others can avoid the problem he just faced.

As I was typing this information, I had a brief phone call from Tim, K8RRT.  He was in bed but wanted to ask me a quick question.  Before hanging up I told him about Jimmy's "near miss" at losing his log.  Tim immediately got out of bed, went to his ham shack, and backed up his log to his USB Thumb Drive.  He normally does this but I guess he realized it had been too long since he last did it and felt he could not go to sleep without doing it NOW!

You can do this backing up manually but it is best to set the backup process so that it is done AUTOMATICALLY.  That way you don't get caught by forgetting to make a backup.  Look at the cartoon at the top of this Post.  Good intentions are NOT enough!