Backups are like flood insurance — one of those things you dont normally think about or act on, but its an absolute crisis when you havent prepared for computer problems or when the river rises. Data loss can occur for many reasons: hardware failure (disk crash), viruses, user error, or even being stolen via a hack.
The first question anyone asks when one of these catastrophic-feeling events occurs is: When was your last backup?. Too often the answer is either A long time ago or worse, …never. It doesnt necessarily mean you cant get your data back, but it definitely means the process could be very long, difficult, and expensive.
Consider the alternative conversation:
Tech: When was your last backup?
Frantic user: We do a full backup every weekend and incrementals every night.
Tech: Great, well have you back up and running shortly. You should have minimal data loss.
Now Less-Frantic user: Whew
Its not difficult to choose which scenario youd rather experience.
Backups are merely a copy of the files you have decided are important to you, written to a disk other than your primary hard drive. That backup drive (or drives) can be internal to the computer for a desktop, an external disk drive, a USB drive, written to CD or tape, or even maintained by a service provider in the cloud for you. These can be divided into local (meaning on-site), and online.
Local backups are relatively easy to setup, inexpensive, and provide the comfort of physically holding your data where you can see it. The primary downsides are that they require maintenance and the fact that theyre, well, physically local.
Someone must maintain the drive / disk / tape, monitor how full it is, ensure the process is being performed as scheduled, etc. Unfortunately, these tasks are often overlooked in IT environments or small offices where there is no dedicated IT staff. Data stored on a physical device, as with anything else of value, can be lost, stolen, or damaged.
As such, local backups should strictly be a complement to online / cloud / remote backups, and not the only solution. Your computer or online service can automatically send local data to a cloud backup service on regularly scheduled (once every hour / day / week) or dynamic (immediately when files are created / edited) basis.
Although a perceived upside to online backups is that it relieves the user to acquire local storage hardware, the fact remains that cloud vendors are reliant on an active internet connection for both backups and post-data-loss retrieval of the backed up data.
(Granted, there still exist methods to backup to physical media, snail-mail the backup to a cloud vendor, and vice-versa, but for all intents and purposes the internet is necessary for a cloud backup scenario.)
And while your internet connection may have 99.9% uptime on a normal basis, resulting in easy retrieval of data from the cloud in case of local drive corruption or a hack, any disaster incident involving power or internet loss could stall retrieval efforts for days or weeks.
As such, backup the backups — have primary and secondary retrieval methods in place when data loss strikes. Automate local backups using either Windows provided or 3rd party utilities, and also work with a major cloud vendor that encrypts data traffic to continuously upload new or recently edited files.
About the Author
Eric Haruki is a technology analyst with over 15 years of experience advising global category leaderssuch as Samsung, Panasonic, HP, & Ciscoonproduct and brand strategy, market competitiveness, and in areas of untapped product and distribution opportunity. He has produced both syndicated and project work, delivering forecasts, SWOT analyses, road maps, and panel survey insights to research customers around the globe. Eric has contributed to major print and television press outlets and has been a featured presenter at industry conferences. He isdriven to find insights through extensive market research and deliver concise and actionable solutions to vendors, leading ultimately to the development of valued downstream goods and services to end users.