First, let me start off by saying that EVERYONE should be backing up their computers, not just businesses.
A backup can be performed many ways. Some people simply copy their data to a CD or DVD maybe once a year and consider that a backup. Although it is technically a backup, it’s not the best strategy to use as I’m sure your data changes as often as your socks. Anytime you modify your accounting information, say in Quicken or Quickbooks, you’ve updated the data file. Some programs like these have a backup feature, but they make a copy of the data file to another location on the same computer by default. This is fine if you make a major mistake in your data file and need to go back to a previous day, but if your computer is every lost, stolen or destroyed for any reason, that “backup” is also gone.
This is practically the same for those of you who use an external hard drive (ah hem, like me) to complete your backups. If someone breaks into your home or business to steal your computer, aren’t they just as likely to take the external hard drive sitting next to the computer? If the building burns down, don’t you think the external drive will burn up as quickly as the computer?
OK, so you say you take the external hard drive home every night. Not so fast! That external hard drive is still a component with moving parts that is susceptable to physical damage. It also doesn’t like humidity, extreme heat and extreme cold. If you drop it, it will break. If you leave it your car it can become damaged by the elements or go missing from theft. If you take it into your home, will you remember to bring it to work EVERY DAY?!?!
The same goes for tape backup, but with tape backup you have the ability to rotate out multiple tapes (I suggest at least 5, but 10 is better) and store them in a fire safe either in a part of the office protected by sprinklers or at home in a fire safe if you can remember to cycle out the daily tape.
Why do I suggest at least 5 tapes and 10 is better? Well, so you have either 1 set of tapes labelled Monday – Friday that you recycle each week giving you multiple points of restore as tapes too can break. Or you complete the same process with 2 sets of Monday – Friday tapes and have data from two weeks back in case of a major error in data that doesn’t get discovered for a while.
OK, so I’m a former IT Consultant turned House Flipper and you want to know what I would recommend for Personal / Home Office backup solutions. Well, I always recommend multiple backup systems as redundancy because backups have multiple failure points. The actual choice in methods will vary depending on how much data you have to backup, how often it changes and what your budget is compared to what it would cost to rebuild all the data that is damaged or lost.
- All data should be backed up to a method listed above such as external hard drive or tape as they are the quickest methods of retrieval.
- I also recommend an off-site “Cloud” method as a secondary backup. This is where you would send critical data that is hard to rebuild and constantly changing such as accounting information and client lists.
- If you have static data, data that never or rarely changes, that can be burned to CD or DVD and stored off-site in a home fire safe or a storage facility.
- I also recommend you complete FULL backups to your local backup system as the incremental backups require a sequence restore and if one piece of the “chain” is damaged or broken, you lose, however you can SKIP any of the static data you put on CD or DVD.
- Of the three methods I recommend above, tape/hard drive and Cloud are automated for a nightly backup. For tape drives, you simply change the tape daily. If you want to use external hard drives, buy 2 and swap them out daily storing one off-site in a fire safe.
Of course, there are other options such as a server disk based backup, but again if you don’t have the ability to locate that device in a building other than your office, it too will burn up in the fire. Although most server disk based backup appliances offer Cloud storage, the cost is based on how much data you store in the cloud and can become cost prohibitive for a small business.
About the author: Darren Lenick is the owner of Magen Services Holdings, LLC located in Orlando, FL. Before becoming a house flipper, he worked for over 25 years in the IT Industry.