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Ways to Back Up Your Data Safely

A good set of data backups can save you a lot of heartache, pain and money when hardware fails.


While we try to make the data recovery process easy, we understand that most of our clients would prefer to avoid data loss entirely. The only way to keep yourself completely safe is to back up your important files regularly, and to do this, you need to choose an effective data backup method. Here's a look at some of the most popular options and their advantages and disadvantages.

External Hard Drives and Portable Media - Many desktop computer users back up data onto portable devices. Modern external hard drives are dependable and inexpensive, and some even provide extra protection by implementing RAID 1 and other technologies. Many portable devices also come with built-in data backup software, which makes it easy to keep key files safe.

However, external devices aren't perfect backup devices for several reasons. For one, they need to be physically connected to a computer. If the computer sustains damage from an electrical event or a natural disaster, the external device can also sustain damage.

External devices are also limited in size, and while the largest external drives have capacities in excess of 4TB, they still aren't ideal for backing up data from multiple computers. Nevertheless, portable devices can work well for personal computer users.

Storage Appliances - Businesses often employ storage servers to back up data for all of their computer users and for critical database files. Storage servers typically employ RAID 5 or a similar technology, so that if a single hard drive from the server fails, the system administrator can replace it without losing data.

Storage servers are typically kept onsite, although this is not always the case. The major downside of a storage server is high setup and management costs. Most storage server technologies allow businesses to add and remove hard drives as needed, so they're somewhat flexible, but businesses need a knowledgeable IT department to operate an onsite storage appliance.

Cloud Backup Services - Cloud storage is an excellent option for both private computer users and businesses that need flexible offsite backup. If you store data in the cloud, it's safe from any natural disaster, and many cloud backup services have fast data transfer speeds and intuitive software.

There are a few disadvantages to cloud backup, however. Computer users need a consistent connection to the Internet, and cloud services aren't quite as fast as some of the other options on this list. Nevertheless, cloud services are an inexpensive, powerful and flexible option for data backup.

Data Tapes - Tapes are ideal for businesses that need to keep regular backups of their systems indefinitely. Each tape stores a large amount of data on one or two magnetic reels. Common tape formats include LTO, SDLT and DDS.

Tapes are inexpensive, but they take a long time to write. They're not an automatic form of backup, as humans need to switch tapes out to complete backup procedures. Tape drives can also break down over time, resulting in consistency errors with some formats.

Note that RAID and similar technologies are not listed above. While redundancy should be an important part of your data protection strategy, it is not a complete substitute for a regular backup plan. Even if your business has a massive RAID with dozens of drives, you should regularly back up your data in at least three separate locations to avoid accidental data loss.

If you do lose data due to a hardware failure or another event, call us right away. Don't attempt to operate a hard drive or server after a failure, as this might make the data recovery process more difficult and time consuming.

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