Definition of Backup: The duplicate copy of crucial data that no one bothered to make, used only in the abstract. :-)
Keeping regular and complete backups of your data is very important. As capacity increases our data becomes more and more vital to us.
You need to guard data against:
- Mechanical failure.
- Accidental or malicious deletion.
- Fire, Flood and other catastrophes.
Here are some pointers on what to do and what not to do.
- If it is important then back it up!
- Not just computers - Phone contact data, iPods, PDA's.
- A mirror is not a backup. RAID can help against data loss because the hard disk died, but not against accidental file deletion or overwriting a file. You need to be able to go back in time.
- Make regular backups (back up data weekly, daily even - as often as you think is important).
- Never keep your backup materials in the same place as your original data (Fire, Theft and Flood) Always remove your data to a separate and secure place for storage.
- Test your backup solution - if you can't restore data then the backup is useless.
- If your data is important then invest time and money in an effective solution. Consider how much time will be consumed re-creating the data to budget time appropriately for backing data up.
- Encrypt your backup data if possible - if the data is stolen consider what important personal data might be mis-used (Credit cards, Passwords, Confidential data).
- On-line services such as Skype, Gmail or Hotmail can lose your data and contact details! (If the data that is stored by them is very valuable to you, export it from time to time).
- Backup to CD ROM (700Mb) or DVD ROM (4-8Gb) (good for 'snapshots' of data).
- Backup to external storage such as USB Thumb drive (2-8Gb) or external hard disk (100-200Gb).
- Backup to an Internet storage solutions (1Gb-infinity!) Can be costly as you pay monthly and costs rise as the capacity increases. See BT Digital Vault.
- Backup to tape drives. High capacity digital tape drives exist and this is a good solution but expensive. More suited for businesses or larger offices (like a National Office or YWAM Centre that centralises storage for documents in the office) that can afford it and also can run the backup process over night. Tape drives can be slow.
Consider a combination of two options above for maximum security (and don't put two different types of external storage in the same place!)