Insurance in the Digital Ageinfo@drakehs.com
Have you ever noticed that insurance seems to operate on the Murphy's Law principle? If you have it, you never need it, but as soon as the insurance is gone a catastrophe strikes. That is pretty much how backing up data often works.
Of course, you know better and you have your important data safely backed up. Right? Well, even if that's the case, it may not be enough. What you do with that backup data, and where you store it, is almost as critical as backing up the data in the first place.
Click Start and type "backup" in the search bar to go straight to the Windows Backup utility. The utility lets you create a bootable System Repair disc that you can use to start and troubleshoot Windows when problems arise. You can also create a System Image that duplicates the drives and data necessary to run Windows.
For our purposes, though, you just need to set up a scheduled backup. Just select the drive you want to back the data up to, the files or folders you want backed up, and the time and day when the backup should run.
It is best that you backup your data to a different physical drive than the one where the original data is stored. Otherwise, a catastrophe that kills the original data will almost certainly wipe out the backup data as well. For that same reason, the backup data should be stored on an external drive or system--like a portable USB drive.
Portable USB drives come in a wide array of sizes, from 2 or 4 gig thumb drives to the 500 gig drives that are still small enough to fit in a secure place. The determining factor is no longer cost. A quick search this morning showed you could buy a traditional thumb drive for about a dollar a gigabyte. On a slightly larger scale, a one terra byte portable hard drive could be had for under $120.
OK. So, now your data is being backed up on a regular basis to an external USB drive. You can sleep soundly, knowing that your data is protected and you have nothing to worry about, right? Wrong.
Remember--a fire that melts your PC and primary data into a molten puddle of plastic and metal will have a similar effect on that portable USB hard drive sitting next to it. You need to take additional steps--like storing the external USB drive in another room. For better protection, you can use a fireproof storage box. My personal solution is to keep two 16 gig thumb drives. I keep one in a safe deposit box and one at home in a fireproof box. Every six months I back up the files I need onto the drive in the fireproof box, then swap it out with the one in my safe deposit box. At most, if a catastrophe strikes, I will only loose six months of data.
I also have one other form of personal back up. I keep a portable hard drive attached to my computer at all times. I back up to it every Sunday night. This back up is more extensive and goes beyond pictures or documents and includes software settings, outlook archives and any changed files since the last back up. I use this strictly in case of local hardware failure.
Of course, an alternative solution which is rapidly gaining mainstream acceptance is cloud storage. Neither a fire, nor a flood at your office will have any effect whatsoever on your data stored safely at a remote data center hundreds of miles away. Services like Carbonite or Mozy offer solid backup solutions with simple tools to help you automate data backups to the cloud. One word of advice, when using cloud back ups, choose a company that offers that service exclusively. Do not choose one (like Megaupload) that is also a file sharing service. You can do a Google search to see what kind of mess they are in.
Regardless of how you choose to protect your data, and where you choose to store it, it is crucial that you back up your data on a frequent and regular basis. It is also critical that you make sure your backup data will survive whatever disaster it is that destroys the original data, and that the backup data is accessible so you can restore it when necessary.