I want to talk a bit about backups. But first, let’s take a little quiz:
First question: Do you have a backup program/system in place that regularly performs a backup of your critical data? (Answer truthfully and no copying your neighbor’s answer)
Second question: How likely are you to remember to do this on a daily basis if you had to change tapes and transport them off site? (No peeking at the book)
Third Question: If you had a relatively inexpensive method that was a fully automated way of backing up your data would you do it?
Ok, pencils down, the test is over.
Until recently, if you wanted to backup your computer, your choices were limited to tape, CD or external hard drive. All have benefits and all have issues. Tape backup is most commonly used by companies. Tape is a good solution as you can take the tapes offsite to a storage facility after every backup. This gives you the protection of having your backup data safely stored away from the main computer. That’s a good thing in case of a fire. The downside to tape backup is the cost of the tape drives and of course the tapes themselves. Then, of course is the hassle of taking the tapes offsite. Some companies have technicians whose sole job is to perform backups, manage the tape libraries and perform restores as needed. Imagine that, somebody thinks that their data is important enough to have to have full time employees manage it!
Most late model computers come equipped with CD or DVD burners installed, and they also have rudimentary backup software installed as well. You can buy a stack of blank CD-R or DVD-R discs and you can set up a plan to burn CDs once a week or so that contain copies of your data. The cost of blank CD-R media is trivial and blank DVD-R media is relatively low. Here is the problem with this method: the disks don’t have enough capacity to do a full backup on one disk. This means that you have to be present to change out disks as they fill up. Then you still need to transport them to an offsite storage facility.
Many hard drive manufacturers now offer external hard drives that come with backup software and connect to your computer using a USB connection. This is a pretty good method, as the software allows you to setup your backups to occur automatically. The downside is that you cannot move your backups off site.
So, why aren’t you backing up? Is it because of the cost of tape drives and tapes? Is it because you have to remember to change the tapes every day and keep track of the tapes and store them offsite?
Or, is it because the hassle of changing CD-R or DVD-R disks is too much work for too little reward?
Of course it is! You are busy trying to get new business and you are busy trying to service the existing business, be it buyers or sellers. Who has time for this stuff?
The problem is that it is not if you are going to wish that you had a current backup, it’s when. In plain English, ya gotta do it!
The solution that I urge you to implement is a no-brainer. You set it up, you perform a full backup once, and then it just backs up what changes, automatically, with no intervention on your part, in the background, quietly, and so on. It just flat couldn’t be easier. The investment is small considering what the cost to replace lost data might be. And, you will have some protection in place that satisfies the need to backup automatically and also satisfies the need to store the backups off site. That solution is online backup. If you have highspeed connectivity where your computer is located, then you are a candidate for this type of service.
There are any number of online backup services available. There are two that consistently rank as #1 and #2 in all reviews that I have read. They are Mozy and Carbonite. Both have slightly different feature sets and pricing schemes, but both are excellent. I use Mozy, in case you were interested
And by the way, periodically do a Restore of a few files to make sure that the system is working…and that goes for tape, CD/DVD and external hard drives as well.