Imagine carrying on business as usual if every file and all the data on your office computers were irretrievably lost tomorrow. The risk of data loss is very real. Hard drives fail more frequently than you think, and most business locations are susceptible to some type of natural disaster. An active backup system makes it possible to recover business-critical files and data. By “active,” we mean that you must commit yourself to regular, ongoing maintenance and checkups on whatever backup system you choose.
Backup systems are broadly categorized as either:
- Disk Based
- Tape Based
- Internet Based
Any backup system can be used for disaster recovery, data archiving, or both, though these functions are easier to accomplish on some backup systems than on others.
Tape-based backup requires changing tapes and verifying the status of your last backup daily. It provides the best combination of disaster recovery and data archiving possibilities, and it’s easily scalable by adding tapes to the rotation. Want a permanent year-end archive? Copy your files and set that year’s tapes safely aside. Tape drives will usually last three to five years, and the tapes themselves will need to be replaced periodically. Generally the most expensive type of backup system to implement, it is often the appropriate choice of medium-sized businesses.
With the availability of large-capacity external disk drives, the cost of disk-based backup has become more affordable. Just plug an extra disk drive into your system and you have a fast, reliable backup method. Sometimes touted as a replacement for tape backup systems, the disk-based backup scheme does have some limitations. If you want a second copy of your data, you’ll need to purchase a second external drive. And disk drives are often vulnerable to the same conditions that lead to data loss in the first place. It’s best to take them off-site every day, but disk drives won’t stand up to buffeting and drops as well as a tape cartridge. That said, large companies often have the resources to implement and run a robust disk backup system, especially when huge amounts of data require a speedy solution.
Initially a cost-effective choice for smaller companies, internet-based backup must be used cautiously, because storage and data transfer fees can add up quickly as you back up more and more data. It’s also a slow backup method, as all that data has to move through your internet connection. To get the best performance from an internet-based backup, upload only your working data each night. Some internet-based backup services offer special ways to store the data you’ll need to get up and running after a disaster, but in general, this isn’t the best method for disaster recovery purposes.
A final word on backup
No matter what type of backup system you use, there’s no reason to pay for backing up non-critical business data. Make sure you aren’t paying to backup your employees’ entire iTunes collection every night!
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