"Why Should I backup My Data?
By Jon V. Klein
In a world filled with risks,
threats and malicious hackers, there really is no way to be 100%
protected from the damage or loss of data. Risks and threats we can’t
prevent can be mitigated. Data loss can occur at the most unexpected
times and due to many different reasons (man-made/natural disaster):
power surges, loss of power, fire, flood, malicious attack, human error
and of course software and hardware failure. Bottom line; all data is
susceptible to loss or damage.
So, why should you backup your data?
If you’re a business owner, the loss
could cause negative operational impact; you could lose the ability to
bring in new customers or keep the ones you already have, it could
create a financial burden, loss of income, customer bill tracking and
payments, or you could incur great legal cost due to the loss of
federally mandated protection of sensitive data. Also, those
organizations whom you do business will definitely not find satisfaction
with your actions or lack there of; affecting your business reputation.
For the home user, it only seems backups
are not important. In fact most home users, if not all, who’ve
experienced data loss, were quick to realize, after the fact, how very
important it is to backup data. We live in a mobile and digital world
built on compiling, storing and amassing large amounts of data: email,
homework, research papers, pictures, music, movies, financial data, and
whatever your favorite pastimes, just to name a few. By far, this isn’t
just for one user. It’s for everyone in your family who uses
computers. Don’t wait until it’s lost before you do something about it;
usually by then it is too late and the data is more often than not
There are two ways to approach backups:
On-Site, and Offsite. Within each of these approaches is
the term redundant; multiple avenues of recovery for your most important
On-Site begins with “data at rest”, the data stored on your hard
drives. Unfortunately, this is a single point of failure if ever
something should go wrong. But, it is also the most expedient way to
access your data day to day; this why you keep it around. The next
backup option may depend on the amount and size of your data, removable
media, such as:
- 3 ½ Floppy: (if you still use
them) Size limit: 1.44mb
- USB Thumb Drive: (Various sizes
from 64MB to 64GB (64GB device is very expensive)
- Writable CD, 74-80 min: Size:
650MB to 700MB) or 90-99min, 800MB to 900MB
- Writable DVD (Standard): DVD5,
Size: 4.7GB, SS-SL (Single Sided, Single Layer)
- Writable DVD: (NEW): DVD9, Size
8.54GB, SS, DL (single Sided, Dual Layer)
- Tape Drive: (many people still
use them), various sizes and various manufacturers, useful
- External Drive: External to
your system, same size or larger than your internal system drive(s)
- NAS (Network-Attached Storage):
Best Choice, Raid5, full redundancy, automate, external
Copying data to these types of media may
not require any other software, except what is already provided by your
operating system. It may come with its own software to best use the
devices or you can choose to buy third party software to make your
backup experience easier and less time consuming. Each of these On-Site
solutions comes with its own short falls:
Data may be too large, too many disk, time to backup and restore, wears
down over time
Data may be too large, easy too lose, data loss due to improper use,
easy malware carrier
Data may be too large, some drives may not read disk made from other
Data may be too large, some drives may not read disk made from other
Data may be too large, proprietary device, per model: time to backup and
External Drive: Drive could fail just as your internal drive; data lost due to no
other media used
NAS (Network-Attached Storage):
Expensive and can be too technical for the average user
Compressed data stored on removable media allows for additional space
for more data. However, to restore, the compressed data must be copied
to the hard drive and uncompressed first before use. It could at more
time to your recovery procedures and return to service.
Other information to keep in mind after
backing up your data is to store it in a safe, secure location. Store
all your backups as well as your purchased software in lockable
fireproof and water proof cabinet. This will prevent casual theft and
help prevent the physical loss of the media storing your data. The
media does not need to be stored on site it can also be stored in
another location with the same safe, secure lockable cabinet
requirements; which brings me to the second approach.
First and foremost, you can store your
backup media at another location; keeping in mind the requirement to
store your media in a safe, secure cabinet; fire proof, water proof and
The off-site backup approach is also a
“data in transit” strategy, providing the user a location to transmit
their data to a remote back up location. “A remote, online, or managed
backup service is a service that provides users with an online system
for backing up and storing computer files. Managed backup providers are
companies that provide this type of service.”
Advantages of Remote Backup
Remote backup has advantages over
traditional backup methods:
Remote backup does not require user
intervention. The user does not have to change tapes, label CDs or
perform other manual steps.
Remote backup maintains data
offsite. Perhaps the most important aspect of backing up is that
backups are stored in a different location from the original data.
Traditional backup requires manually taking the backup media
Unlimited data retentions
Some remote backup services will
work continuously, backing up files as they are changed.
Most remote backup services will
maintain a list of versions of your files.
Most remote backup services will use
a 128 - 448 bit encryption to send data over unsecured links (ie
A few remote backup services can
reduce backup by only transmitting changed binary data bits
Disadvantages of Remote Backup
Remote backup has some disadvantages:
Depending on the available network
bandwidth, the restoration of data can be slow. Because data is
stored offsite, the data must be recovered either via the Internet
or via tape or disk shipped from the online backup service provider.
Some backup service providers have
no guarantee that stored data will be kept private - for example,
from employees. As such, most recommend that files be encrypted
before storing or automating this process.
It is possible that a remote backup
service provider could go out of business or be purchased, which may
affect the accessibility of one's data or the cost to continue using
If encryption password is lost, no
more data recovery will be possible. However with managed services
this should not be a problem.
Residential broadband services often
have monthly limits that preclude large backups. They are also
usually asymmetric; the user-to-network link regularly used to store
backups is much slower than the network-to-user link used only when
data is restored.
For data backups the user may employ any
of the methods or a combination. What works well for one user may not
suit the conditions of another. That’s why it’s best to choose the
method that’s affordable, maintainable and fully meets the best practice
to protect your data and provide the easiest data recovery and system
restoration. You need to ask yourself how important your data is and
what are you not willing to lose. The rest can be a success story.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning is not just a big
business strategy; all users need to prudently protect their systems and
data to prevent disruptions and the loss of data.
This is just the backup of data. It does not prevent compromise or the
stealing of data. The compromise or stealing of data often times leaves
the data unchanged and remaining on the system. Unless the user was
aware of the compromise/stolen data, then possibly the only warning
something was amiss would be the review of audit logs for system and
Encryption will protect and prevent
your data from prying eyes.
Here is a list of “Hints for Backups”. ((Ref: Computer Security Basics, Deborah Russell, G.T.
Gangemi SR, O’Reilly & Associates, Inc)
Remember that your backups are the key
to recovering your system in case of a disaster.
Back up all your files, and follow these
Keep extra backups off0site in a
locked, fireproof location. You don’t want a fire, lighting, or
some other disaster to wipe out your system and your backups at the
Copyrights © 2008 All Rights Reserved Virtual Resource Systems
Copyright © 2008 Virtual Resource Systems. All Rights Reserved.