Technology Guide: Why Back Up? The importance of protecting your data!
A Little Humour
Site updated Thursday, October 22, 2009
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What You Should Know
Even The Best Hard Drives Die.  Do You Back Up?
Businesses of all sizes are witnessing an explosion in the volume of data they hold. Whether it is the result of the Internet, email, or increasingly heavy and media-rich application software, there is a massive growth in the volume of data all around. Conservative estimates place data growth at approximately 80% per year. Data is increasingly being recognized as one of the real assets of a company, and losing this data would cause severe damage to any organization.

Data loss can be very costly, particularly for organizations in the small and medium business (SMB) market where the difference between survival and closure can rest on the ability to recover from a disaster. At the very least, critical data loss will have a financial impact on companies of all sizes:

Data type Time to re-create 20 MB Cost
Sales and marketing 19 days $17,000
Accounting 21 days $19,000
Engineering 42 days $98,000

The financial impact on a company is a combination of loss of business, low productivity, legal action, and the cost of re-creating data. A study showed that the cost of re-creating just 20 MB of data can be extensive!

Your best solution, is an external drive as a backup.  You can have multiple drives, and it is much easier restore from a portable external drive, as opposed to CDs or DVDs.

Today's Backup Options
With ever increasing hard drive sizes, how do you protect your valuable data?  CDs are only 720+ MBs, and even DVDs are limited to a few Gigabytes. So what do you do to back up hundreds of Gigabytes?  Here are some great and inexpensive options:
  • High Capacity USB Thumb Drives:
    USB Thumb Drives are now available in sizes as large as 64GB (soon to be even more).  While the USB interface is somewhat slow, these make an ideal solution for their small compact size.  Thumb drives are perfect for storing in files, or other compact spaces.  While their cost per GB is somewhat high, their convenience, USB interface, size, and extremely light weight, make them a very attractive option.
  • External Hard Drives
    Now you have a wide variety of options for external hard drives.  1TB (Terabyte) External Drives are now available for less than $200.00.  External drives come in a wide range of sizes, speeds, and interfaces.  They are available with USB (the slowest), Firewire (medium speed), and SATA/eSATA (the fastest).  

    When selecting an external drive, it is important to consider how you will use the drive, and the interface limitations of your computer.  If you have a laptop that only has USB ports, this would be your best (possibly only) option.  If you have USB & Firewire, get a drive that has Firewire for the performance boost.  If your system has a SATA or eSata port, get a drive with this option - it will give you true hard drive to hard drive performance.  

    However, also consider where you might need to restore the data.  USB is the most universal, in that almost all systems have USB ports.  If your system dies, and you need to restore your data, this may be your most important consideration.

    One last consideration is to keep your backup drive continuously connected, or only connect it during backups.  The general idea of backups is to have a copy of your data in case your system fails - which they do.  But you may also want secure protected backups in a safe or safe deposit box.  Regardless, external hard drives offer an outstanding solution for backing up your data, and the cost per GB is quite low.

  • Hard Drive Docks (Toasters)
    An incredibly simple, yet functional new product category emerged in 2008: Hard Drive Toasters (Hard Drive Docks).  This device lets you plug in regular internal hard drives as though they were pop-in flash drives.  You drop in your hard drive, and the dock instantly gives your system access to that drive, without wiring, or power connections - it's all done by the hard drive toaster.  This way you can use any compatible hard drive as an external removable hard drive for backup purposes!
  • don't forget DVD writers  


  • Online Backup
    Still another option is to use an online backup service.  These come in two forms:

         Backup to another computer over the Internet
         Backup to a central server using the Internet

    The first of these can work very well, and automatically backups when you are online.  The Microsoft OneCare service is one example.  It can backup your data from your system to another in your OneCare account across the Internet automatically, regardless of where you are.

    The second involves trusting your critical data to someone else's servers, and usually no real guarantee that your data will always be there.  If they loose your data, they just refund your fee.  This service may be fine for a couple of letters, but business critical data needs to be accessible forever.  For this reason, you are better advised to look to a hardware solution that you control.
  • Backup Software
    Many products come with backup software included, such as External Hard Drives, and Antivirus products like CA Security Suite.  Most offer excellent features for automated backups.  But remember, backup software and devices, are only as good as your willingness to use them!  So backup regularly, and backup often.

If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to