Data Recovery & Backup

Backups

Are you SURE you actually have a backup?

These days, many people have external hard drives and they certainly know how to fill them with precious data such as personal photos, company accounts, music, etc. BUT, the big question is, do they actually have a backup on that external drive?
If the only place those precious files exist is on that external hard drive and nowhere else, it is NOT a backup of your data, these are actually your ONLY copies of the data.
This means that if the external hard drive fails (and we see this regularly) your files are lost just as much as they would have been if you’d left them on your computer and your computer’s hard drive had failed.
So, remember this; it is ONLY a backup, if the data is ALSO stored somewhere else.

What should you backup onto?

CDs, DVDs, thumb drives, external hard drives, tape? What is the best medium to put your backup onto?

  • CDs/DVDs really don’t store a lot of data these days, so it’s often necessary to use multiple discs which is a pain. Plus, CDs/DVDs don’t store very well and within a few years, they are no longer usable.
  • Thumb drives are relatively cheap and store much more than a DVD, but they are slow to backup to and when they fail, it is usually difficult or expensive to recover any data from them.
  • Tape is reliable but quite expensive, so is usually reserved for server installations for large networks.
  • External hard drives are the cheapest and most reliable form of storage. The smaller 2.5″ models usually don’t even require a separate power source, so they are very portable.

How long ago did you do your last backup?

Probably a while back and that’s understandable, because we’re all busy people these days. People usually say, I’ll do it on the weekend, but something comes up and it is forgotten… and it keeps getting put off until suddenly you lose a file or your computer crashes and then it’s too late.

Wouldn’t it be better if it was automatically done for you? When we set up backup systems for our clients, we usually make it an automatic service to get around that annoying habit of procrastination that so many of us have.

Are you backing up all the right files?

Most people know they have to backup their music, photos and documents, but they sometimes forget the files and folders on their desktop.

However, the items that most frequently get left out are email, address book and accounts data. There is good reason for this as they are usually either hidden or stored in hard to find locations.

How frequently do you need to do your backups?

This is a question that has no definitive answer as it is really up to the individual. To help you decide, you need to ask yourself, “If my data was suddenly all wiped out and I needed to recover from a backup, how far back could I go before I decided it would be too far back to re-enter the lost information. For accounts data, that might be only yesterday, however, if the only really important data you have is photos, this will be very ad-hoc as you would usually not be adding new photos on a set schedule. In the former example, it would be best to set up your backups so that they run automatically every night. In the latter examples, it would make sense to run the backup manually immediately after you had uploaded your new batch of photos.

Do you know if your backup is actually working?

If you are doing regular backups you are one step ahead of most people in regards to the safety of your data, however you’re not out of the woods if you’re not checking to see if the backup has actually worked. If your backups have been set up correctly, this is relatively simple to do. After your computer has failed is too late to find out that your automatic backups had been backing up nothing of importance the whole time.

How do you recover the data?

If the backups had been set up correctly, then recovering the data is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing. This saves time and frustration and avoids a LOT of anxiety.