Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Backup Considerations for Home Offices

Backup is the most expensive easy thing to forget about. It's like insurance. If you don’t have it, you will wish you had it, eventually. If you do have it, you think you rarely use it. When a crisis hits there is enough stress without dealing with the fact that you lost that important data on top of everything else.

There are many options to manage a backup. I recommend using more than one. You shouldn't put all your bytes in one basket.

Carbonite, Mozy, Dell Datasafe, Norton Online Backup and iDrive are a few of the many online backup solutions. For single computers it is a wonderful tool. You get data backed up to their server location secured and off-site automatically. Features and prices vary but there are some basic things I believe you should evaluate when making a decision on a service.

Your backup should be fully encrypted before it gets to their server. This means they can’t even look at it on their servers. All they see is there is a secure encrypted file. You have the encryption key and the ability to log in to see your files.

Can you recover everything up there or just one thing?  You may only have one file that got hosed by some bad program. You don't want to restore everything just to get at one thing.

Understand the amount of data and types of data you can save. If you have 30G of music and the backup plan allows for 25G total and of that 25G only half of it can be music files, the solution is not a good idea for you.

As with anything that seems easy and wonderful...... There are some caveats.

When you install the software it usually tells you it will set up the back up to run for standard settings automatically. Those settings include things in the “normal” places people put things. You should have the ability to go and mark anything that isn’t in that normal list to be included in the automatic backup.

Multiple hard drives may be an issue. If you store data on a C drive and a D drive or a C drive and an external hard drive you may only be able to back up data from the C drive. Know this limitation before you proceed. If you are trying to back up pictures and music from an external drive, it may not happen at all.

Unless you are sure what you have to be backed up and where it is stored, you can’t be sure everything you need is actually being backed up.

A slow computer on a slow connection will get slower running these online backup routines. They may tell you it doesn't create a problem but it does impact the system. You don't notice it very much on a newer, faster machine but you will on an older one. There are some tweaks you can do to help with that on the settings, usually.

As I mentioned originally, I suggest there are multiple backup options in your plans. You don't have to back up every single thing twice but important things should be redundantly backed up. Important documents or financial records, a DJs music collection or a photographers pictures or any other thing you hold dear should be saved in multiple places.

Consider using a flash drive to save those really important things separately from time-to-time. For example, financial records should be saved at the end of a period and then drop them off in a safety deposit box. The tiny flash drives hold plenty of data without taking up lots of space.

Also, consider investing in an external hard drive to use just for backing things up. Your system can be set up to save certain things automatically or you can do it manually. This solution protects your data in the event of a system failure but not if your computer and hard drive meet a miscreant or Mother Nature's Fury while in the same physical location.

Finally, a periodic review of what is being backed up and where is always a good idea. In the digital world we live in today we need to keep copies of everything important just like we did before with paper.

Yes, I said "we" - I am that old. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment