Of course not. Storing your valuables in these hazardous, waiting-for-something-to-go-wrong areas is just tempting fate. Yet, for some reason, in the digital world, we seem to do this all the time with our critical data.
I don’t really understand it – especially since in the digital realm, its not about picking the best place to store your data, but about having copies in many places in case something happens to the original. According to academic research, about 1 in 15 computers experience a data loss incident each year.
Don’t tempt fate. Instead, create your own backup strategy and use at least one (preferably more) of the following ways to backup your data.
1) Backup to a Portable Hard Drive
This is one of the quickest ways to keep a copy of your information. Buy a portable hard drive and copy your files onto it every few days – maybe even more often if you think it is necessary. If you lose access to your main computer for some reason, you’ll be able to get right to work elsewhere within a few minutes. I recommend the LaCie Thunderbolt or SAN Disk Extreme USB Flash Drive, but there are plenty of excellent alternatives at all price points.
Be careful though – portable hard drives, especially flash drives, are vulnerable to hardware failures which could leave you without a working backup. I recommend using this option only in conjunction with at least one of the other methods below.
2) Backup to Cloud Storage
One of the best features of the cloud is that it has its own built-in redundancy, which increases its reliability as a backup option. Cloud storage is also located off-site, which is great protection against a fire or some other incident where your equipment can become damaged. There are many cloud storage solutions out there ranging from Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive (free for personal use) to paid providers such as Amazon S3 and JungleDisk.
Depending on your budget and the type/size of data you’re looking to backup, cloud storage may or may not be a good option. Also, because your information is now being transferred across the Internet and stored on systems where you don’t have direct control, you’ll want to consider any security implications.
3) Backup to Removable Media
Removable media, which includes CDs, DVDs, tapes, and other high-capacity cartridges may be a great option, especially for data that you need to keep but not access very often. Removable media is typically very inexpensive and easy to use.
Of course, removable media is subject to deterioration as it ages, which could result in data loss over long periods of time, and could be lost in the event of a catastrophic loss of your home or office, so plan accordingly.
4) Backup to Another Device
One of the most popular backup schemes I usually find in offices is for data to be backed up to another device, such as a co-worker’s computer or central server. This is usually done with existing software and can even be configured so that backups happen automatically.
Ideally, your server should be using RAID (to mitigate against hard drive crashes) and might be kept off-site (to mitigate against the loss of the facility). Not required, but definitely helpful.
When backing up to other devices, consider the security of your data as it resides on the server – you might have to “lock down” certain parts of the backup with access controls or encryption so that coworkers can’t access everything.
Note: One way to back up using this method is to create an off-site mirror – we’ve included some instructions in a different blog post!
5) Backup to Paper
Sometimes a particular piece of data is just so critical that it might make sense to just print it out and store it somewhere. Financial records such as tax returns, or contracts are great examples. You can keep printed copies for as long as you need them and destroy them when they are no longer relevant. Just make sure you store them in a secure location, such as a fire-proof safe.
Having Redundant Backups
Using one backup method is good; two is better and three is best. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, so using a few of them together ensures that you have the greatest protection against a loss. Choosing the best plan will depend on your specific situation – including your type of business, data to backup, number of employees and many other factors. Regardless, any plan is better than no plan – you have nowhere to go but up if you’re starting from scratch.
It’s usually common to hear about people and organizations that suffer some kind of catastrophic loss because of a poor backup strategy. At the time of this writing, I actually came across a story about a New Jersey school district hit by a ransomware attack that was able to recover thanks to a good backup. This goes to show how having such a backup can protect against a whole host of threats, whether anticipated or not.
The Register: Ransomware Holds Schools Hostage
SC Magazine: Ransomware holds New Jersey school district’s network hostage
If you need someone to help with your backup plan, 7 River Systems can help. Get in touch with us today!