Backing Up (Part 3) - Backup Strategies
(from the 12/06 issue of the CompuNerds Nerdsletter - sign up for it here)
In earlier articles, we’ve talked about how to back up. This month, we’ll focus on different backup strategies.
How frequently should you back up your data? Ask yourself how important your data is. How much work can you afford to lose? Some people couldn’t bare to lose a week’s worth of work. For most people, losing a day’s worth of work is an inconvenience, but not a disaster.
Whatever your comfort level, that’s how often you should back up. Daily, weekly, monthly - depending on how much you can afford to lose. Some folks can’t afford to lose a single bit of data. In those cases, there are programs and services that will allow you to backup everything as it occurs. This is called mirroring.
The advantage to mirroring is that everything is backed up all the time. The disadvantage is if something happens to your system, like a fire or flood, it could damage the backup at the same time that it damages the original.
This brings up the importance of having an offsite backup. Most of us don’t experience fires or floods or burglaries, and so we can be relatively secure with one backup source.
If, for whatever reason, your data is absolutely vital and irreplaceable, then you should be backing up to multiple sources on a regular schedule, and regularly taking at least one copy of the back up to a different physical location from your computer.
Here’s an example: Fred Smith has a bookkeeping service. He owns three external hard drives which we will call A, B & C. He backs up his data every Friday. On the first Friday, he backs up to Drive A. He takes Drive A home with him and puts it in the closet. The next Friday, he backs up to Drive B. The week after that, he backs up to Drive C.
At this point he has a choice for the next week. He could either take Drive C home and back up to Drive A, or he could leave Drive A at home and continue to alternate between Drive B & C for a month or so, before bringing A back to the office and taking one of the other drives home.
The important points are that there is always one drive offsite, and to be backing up to more than one drive, so that if one drive fails, you’re still protected.
A variation on this scheme is to use the internet for your offsite backup. There are many companies that let you back up your data to their storage space over the net. This can be very slow, depending on the speed of your internet connection and how much data you need to back up, and is still, in my opinion, prohibitively expensive, but is a reasonable option for some businesses. Companies that offer this service include evault.com, ibackup.com, and usdatatrust.com.
This ends the three-part series on backing up. If you have any questions, please contact us and we’ll be happy to explain further!