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Data Backup 101: Part 2

written by: •edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 7/19/2010

Once upon I time I was called out to a user's PC to address the infamous "Blue Screen of Death." When the hard drive tested bad, I began the process of installing a new drive and re-imaging the PC. I then asked the user, "So where did you backup your stuff?" The response was a blank stare. “Backup?”

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    What to Use for Data Backup

    With the importance of data backup now established, the next logical topic of discussion is the selection of the appropriate backup hardware and software. There are many different hardware and software options for data backup but the key is to find a combination that fits your environment.

    You’ll want to select cost-effective hardware without sacrificing quality. After all, what good is a backup tape if it fails after a month of use? Selection of the appropriate software is a little trickier and should be based upon how “customizable” you want your backup schedules to be.

    Many backup hardware devices will come with their own software packages. If you’re looking for a simple backup solution, using the included software may be the easiest way to go. Most likely, you won’t run into any compatibility issues and a basic setup without all the bells and whistles may be easier to manage. On the other hand, if you have very specific needs and require a great amount of detail and flexibility in your backup schedules, you may want to look into purchases third-party backup software.

    Digital vs Hard Drive?

    Most modern day backup hardware devices come in the format of digital tape decks or conventional hard drives. There are benefits to both. With a digital tape deck, the tapes can be removed and stored off-site. This could be beneficial in the event of a fire or some other natural disaster that could possibly ruin the tapes.

    However, if you decide to store the tapes off-site, be sure to use a fireproof, lockable case for storage. Off-site backup is also possible with the use of conventional hard drives but that would normally require the backup site to be in a different location as well. This means proper encryption software and network capabilities should be in place if attempting to perform off-site backups. Although this is not impossible, it may not be cost-effective for a small business.

    The use of conventional hard drives for on-site backup is another great option. Hard drive capacity is much greater than digital tape but in most cases is not removable. If the proper environmental safety precautions are in place, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about a catastrophe in your server room. Another advantage to using conventional hard drives is the ability to configure them in a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) configuration. Essentially, a RAID configuration is simply a group of hard disks (an array) that is configured to act as one large logical drive. The array can be configured for fault tolerance (guarding against data loss), performance (two or more drives working together), or a combination of both. The more advanced software programs will most likely give you the option of configuration a group of disks in a RAID configuration for added fault-tolerance with your data backups.

    As stated earlier, you have many options to choose from. The idea is to pick the hardware and software configuration that will best suit your backup needs without sacrifice quality and not paying for extra bells and whistles that you’ll never use. Once you have the “what,” all you need to figure out is the “when.” Next up: When To Backup Data.

Data Backup 101

Once upon I time I was called out to a user's PC to address the infamous "Blue Screen of Death." When the hard drive tested bad, I began the process of installing a new drive and re-imaging the PC. I then asked the user, "So where did you backup your stuff?" The response was a blank stare. "Backup?"
  1. Data Backup 101: Part 1
  2. Data Backup 101: Part 2
  3. Data Backup 101: Part 3