Byte Me Article 102 – Backing up to dependability

Backing up to dependability

24 November, 2012

I am constantly amazed by the number of new customers who do not have a backup copy of their important data.  This is an essential thing not only for businesses but also for the home user that values their photos, documents and emails.  We also see around one customer a week who has transferred all of their important data to an external “backup” drive and now it is failing or not being recognised by their computer.

Unfortunately a lot of people think that because it is a backup drive it is as good as chiselling the information into stone – this is obviously not the case.  A backup drive uses the same type of hard drive as a computer or laptop.  It is a mechanical device with many moving & delicate components.  A backup hard drive can fail if it is dropped or passed through a magnetic field or it can just plain fail of its own accord.  Basically if you are storing electronic data (on hard drives, disks or tapes) you should never have important data that is stored in only one place on one medium.

2012-11-24 Byte Me Article 102 - Backups

With the vast majority of our customers we make sure that their laptop, desktop or server has enough room to house all of their current data and then we keep an updated copy of it somewhere else as well.  I remember going to a house myself around 10 years ago to see an older gentleman who had been writing poetry and verse nearly every day for around 5 years – typing it onto a home computer. The home computer had crashed and nothing was able to be retrieved, and there were no backup copies on (back then) floppy disk.  I found it hard to break the news to him and he was absolutely devastated.

On the other hand we also often have people bringing in a computer which refuses to boot and the customer thinks that all would be lost.  In these cases we are around 90% successful in getting back all of their data and this is the result that I love to be able to convey to them.

This week we struck another new customer that came to us because they were simple worried about how they were using their existing backup system.  They had thousands of photos and were storing them on around 3 separate backup drives because their laptop did not have nearly enough room to house a complete copy.  Nothing had gone wrong – yet, although they were not sure which drives had the most recent copies and it was taking a lot of time and sorting out to keep these systems running.  We setup a system which used the first external drive for the master copy of their photos, the second drive as a mirror or synchronised copy of the first – and the third drive as a synchronised copy of their laptop documents and emails.  Now this system only takes a couple of minutes each week to safeguard all of their data.

The other trap is that a lot of people think that if their PC or laptop is only a year or two old or if they don’t use it very much then it won’t fail.  You could also buy a Mercedes Benz car and experience a breakdown on the drive home from the showroom – this is simply what mechanical devices sometimes do!  This worry is further emphasised by the fact that they could have their computer / laptop stolen or even leave their laptop in a taxi when travelling!  We never advise a backup system be kept in a laptop bag with the laptop – or always left plugged into a home computer for these very reasons.

There are many great backup systems around these days as well as in some cases backup to a cloud solution.  The bottom line is ANY backup system is better than none at all, but the best ones such as the setups that we do are quick, convenient, regular and user verifiable.

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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