Data backup is one of the most misunderstood and poorly handled network management operations of all time, and yet it is so vital. Once data is gone, there is often nothing to be done, and yet people leave themselves wide open by having no plans in place to backup. Horror stories of companies and individuals losing data are prevalent, so why do so many people fail to back up correctly?
How Many Ways Can Data be Lost?
Even asking this question can result in a raft of blank looks. Data can be lost in many ways: viruses and malware, failure of the hard drive, theft of a computer, computer broken or damaged, or the good old blue screen of death style computer crash. It doesn’t matter if you are holding vital client information, or in the case of the NHS ransomware attack, patient information, or whether you have a substantial collection of photographs and family memories, losing the data can be devastating and somethings will never be recovered – unless you have backed up.
The bottom line is backups are vital but need to be done correctly. There tends to be three main backup methods.
External Hard Drive / Memory Stick
This could be considered a suitable backup for the average home user. The important thing to remember is that between backups the device must be disconnected from the computer to ensure that it is not damaged – or open to virus attack. One downside of this method of backup is that memory sticks are not secured, however at home that might be acceptable if you store it away from the computer and out of sight. If you are using the same storage each time, you will be erasing each previous back up, which is not suitable for businesses who will keep more than one days worth of backups.
This used to be the go-to method for all businesses and is still employed by some. However, it has issues of its own. Tapes are used and stored off site (critical that backups are never kept onsite). The downside of tape storage is that it is slow, most run overnight to collect all the data, and therefore not a quick fix if the data is needed after a crisis, as the whole backup will be required to restore the system. This method requires a nominated person to change the tapes on a schedule and ensure that they are removed from the site.
Online data backup
This is now the preferred go-to method, but again not without some security risk, if not done correctly. In the same vein as cloud storage, users pay a monthly fee, and their data is backup and encrypted on transfer to a data centre. The advantage is the backups do not rely on users as they are automated to suit the needs of the business. Security options to ensure that viruses hitting the system cannot be transmitted to the servers storing that data must be in place. This method gives the possibility of retrieving a single file or the whole backup. Again this means that you can save more than one back up, which is also healthy backup protocol.