Monday, October 6, 2014

Backing up Important Data

Under Review - This post is outdated and will be updated soon. 

During my first few months working as an IT Professional I really started to see the need for backing up files. I never realized how easily years of pictures could be lost because of a hard drive failure. That really got me thinking about backup solutions and what would be best for us as a family. We currently keep digitally pictures, some term papers from school, and most importantly all my work data. I thought about how devastating it would be to lose that data, and what I would have to tell the customers or even my kids when they grew up about their childhood pictures growing up. So now that I realized I had a need for a backup solution, I started trying to figure out what I wanted.There are two different types of backup solutions that I’d like to cover for the home user. The first one is backing up to a second hard drive. The other is an online (cloud) backup that is usually done with a third party backup provider or a hosting account. I will try to go over the benefits and downfalls of each, and give a few recommendations.

(Apple Time Capsule, 2TB)(External Hard Drives ranging from $60+)

Backing up to a second hard drive within the home has many benefits. First is the security aspect, you know at all times where the hard drive is, whether internal to the computer or external. The internal gives you the ability to save your PC from hard drive crashes and your files will be there for restoration. However, if someone steals your PC or your house burns down or is water damaged, you have the potential of losing all your data. The external gives you the same ability to save your data but you get extra security or safe measures because you can lock them up in fireproof safes or a safe deposit box between backups. This is one of the most secure methods, and is recommended if you do not have high speed internet, worried about privacy, or just have a large amount of files (10gb+) that need to be backed up and regularly changed.

Online backups are awesome, if you have high speed internet, for three reasons. One, if something happens to your PC (fire, water, damage) your files are still accessible using any computer usually via a website. Two, your data is also backed up on someone else’s server so it’s potentially like having three backups. Three, usually it requires little to no intervention from the user and happens behind the scenes. Also for personal users, most of these backup hosting companies offer a small amount of space (usually around 2 GB) free of charge. They do this hoping to wrap you into backing up more files to purchase better plans.The down sides are that even with high speed internet, it can take a good amount of time and bandwidth to send the initial backup. Also, after a major crash, it could take hours to completely download your entire backup again. On the up side to this one, most backup companies now offer an overnight or 2-3 day shipping on DVD’s of your backup files. The most important downside is one that needs to be researched intensely beforehand, and that is, who is going to have access to the data while it is at the storage center.

For me, I used to use Mozy’s paid online backup, but due to my growing family and looking for ways to cut expenditures, I have recently changed to using an Apple Time Capsule for most of my documents, and Mozy with their free offering. I bought a previous version back to save money on my purchase. It doubles as my home wireless router and a network attached Storage so it doesn’t have to be shared from any single computer. My Mac computers backup to the device seamlessly using Time Machine and my Windows computers are mapped via a network drive and syncs files across. Mozy’s free service still provides all the same security aspects, and I highly recommend setting your own personal encryption key so that if someone hacks into your data, they can’t decrypt your files unless they are able to guess your key.

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