The Importance of Backups and which to choose

Backup introduction

One of the most important requirements with modern computers is to ensure that your data is safe from accidental deletion, theft or a natural disaster such as a fire or flood. That data could be anything from personal photos or music library, homework or essay, to an important report for your business.

Most of us that own a digital device will have data that is invaluable and irreplaceable. Backing up your data regularly will give you the piece of mind that those special memories or vital documents are safe.

Therefore in this Blog, we will discuss the main talking points surrounding backups and hopefully point you in the right direction on how to get started.


The Importance of Backing Up

The reality with any hardware component is that it can fail at any time. Sometimes you can get lucky and can recover data from a failed Hard Drive, but it is a gamble. So the answer to if you should back up is quite simple : If you have any data that you value, you should back it up.

Not only is there hardware or software failures to consider, there is also the risk of damage due to accidental water spillage (or a cheeky glass of wine whilst using your laptop!) Along with natural disasters such as fire or floods. There is also the risk that you may lose your device or have it stolen.

The other concern is threats to the integrity of your data. Most of us have heard of hacking, or Viruses, Trojans and Ransomware. These can be used not only to access your data, but also to delete it. Keeping a backup allows you to be able to wipe a compromised device and restore your data from a backup.

In simple terms though, it doesn’t matter WHY you lost your data or HOW. The important thing is that it is not entirely gone if you have a backup. Having a regular, reliable backup gives you piece of mind.

If you have used computers for a long time and think, “I’ve never had any issues with my data”, you have so far been lucky. You may never experience any data loss, but in today’s world it is a very familiar situation. Think of a backup as being like insurance. You may never need to call upon it, but you have it just in case.

If you are still not convinced that you need a backup, have a read of this article by Archiware, specialists in data management software solutions for backup, synchronization and archiving. It will help you understand the general lifespan of the hard disk in your computer that is storing all your data : https://blog.archiware.com/blog/how-long-does-a-hard-drive-last/


How to Backup your Data

Once you agree that backing up your data is a necessity, how do you do it?

There are so many ways to backup your data. And there is not necessarily a right way. Like most things, there is time and money involved and you have to decide which is best for you or your company. Here at Maya Solutions, we have a team of experts on hand to assist our clients in choosing the right solution for them.

We start off with some general guidelines to making a good backup.


1) What to backup and what Storage?

Storage is getting cheaper all the time and new technologies will always become available. These days we are lucky that we can usually find a solution that will allow us to just back up everything instead of having to prioritise. You can save money of course if you reduce the amount of data you are backing up, so just have a think about what data you couldn’t do without.

Then it is mainly a choice between a local backup to something like an external USB hard drive or a Cloud backup to an internet service you subscribe to. (There are different methods to exactly how the data is backed up but we will come to that later!)

Cloud storage is often considered more flexible than local storage in the way that if your local backup drive is damaged or lost in any way, you can still access your backup. However local backups are usually considered to be cheaper. You just pay a one-off fee for an external hard disk and backup your data to it.

2) How many backups?

Most people think “Ah, I now have a backup so I do not need to worry”. Well, they always say that “two is better than one”. So why not have more than one backup?

The more places you have data backed up the better. Why not have a local AND a cloud backup? The likelihood that you’ll ever lose your data is reduced with every backup you have. As long as the cost and security of those backups suits your needs.

3) Organise your data for backup

When we talk about ‘Data’, for most this will be your documents. Your text files, spreadsheets, photos, songs and movies.

Organising your data prior to backing up has three main benefits.

Firstly, it may assist you in deciding what is worth backing up.

Secondly, it will make it much easier to backup the data if it is in organised folders, named and dated efficiently.

Thirdly, and more importantly, it will make it much easier to find what you need when it comes to restoring from a backup.

4) How often to backup?

This is a hard one to answer and sometimes you may need some trial and error to test out what works for you.

Often the answer lies in how often you make changes to your data. If you make changes daily, you will need a daily backup or perhaps even more than one backup per day. If you make changes every few days, maybe an ad-hoc or weekly backup is better.

Most backup solutions offer manual and scheduled backups you can easier configure and customise.


Backup Solutions Overview

To finish off, let’s look in more detail at local and cloud backup solutions and some of the options available.

Standalone Device Backups

Whether at home or at work, if you only have one or a couple of devices to backup, you can setup a backup solution to backup directly on a one-to-one basis.

Backup solutions for this scenario are commonly the below options :

  • Locally attached drive (USB, Thunderbolt etc) as the destination volume of the backups.
  • Backup Applications such as Apple’s built-in Time Machine or Third Party solutions to manage the backup process. Configure, Schedule and Manage your backups.
    (You can also just manually copy files (drag and drop) to an external drive or even a memory stick/Flash drive for important files).
  • Cloud Backups. Even for just 1 or 2 computers, you can subscribe to a Cloud backup solution to backup your data.

Centralised Backups for all devices

For backing up multiple devices and larger data sets, a centralised backup solution is more commonly used :

  • Local Network RAID or NAS volume (Connected to your network directly or via a local network Fire Sharing Server). Allows for better management of the data along with sharing data and backups to multiple devices.
    Tape archive solution. For larger data sets and especially designed for archiving data for safe keeping.
  • Business level Backup/Archiving Application (such as Archiware P5 Backup) to manage the backup/archiving process. Configure, Schedule and Manage your backups and archiving.
  • Cloud Backups. Subscribe to a Business Cloud backup solution to backup all your personal or work devices without needing to manage any hardware or software yourself.

Once you have chosen what to backup, how often and which backup solution, the other decision to make is exactly how the backups will be performed. This now delves into the technical aspect of backups and usually will be determined and configured for you based on the data you backup, which solution you choose and the schedule you set.

I will not expand on this here for risk of losing people in geek talk, so I will leave you with a link from our friends at Archiware which explains the Ways to Secure Your Data: Backups, Cloning, Incremental, Differential, Mirror & Full :

https://blog.archiware.com/blog/types-of-backups/

Backup Summary

That’s the end of this article on the importance of Backups, I hope it has been of use to you and given you some thought.

Keep a look out on our website (http://mayasolutions.co.uk) or on our social media pages for our next articles.

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