Your backup is failing? You have not read our 3-2-1 Backup strategy post? Both? Sit back and read this article before you take any action that may lead to data loss. There are numerous reasons why a backup can fail and, in most cases, the lead cause is poor planning. In this article, we will try to cover the most common reasons why backups fail; covering “backup strategies” from DVD burning to External Hard Drives and RAID failings, to help explore options for backups and reasons why they do or do not work.
Strategy: “Not a big deal”
Unless you use your computer, both Mac or PC, only to browse the web or you use platform such as Chromebook (in such case, you may be protected via “cloud”) – you may not have any data that is important to you on your device. In this case, you probably are here just because your motto is to be prepared and you will continue to use your computer this way.
Strategy: “Emails are good enough”
Knowing about up to 15GB per account of combined space (on Google) you may be into relatively simple, but limited way to “back up your files”. While for most proponents of this approach, the first argument usually goes, “I just create 10 accounts and send myself all my documents, photos, and music files, while I send videos to G-Drive,” it should be known that each email is limited to 25 MB, so you can only send a couple files at a time. Let’s say you have a moderate 10,000 files to backup, and let’s say you are extremely fast to do it (compose, attach and send an email) in just 20 seconds, it will take you just shy of a day to send all the emails (including few five-minute breaks). If you do this every day after you create that many emails to include all files created in a day, this strategy fails the very first day you forgot to send an email.
Strategy: “Burn DVD’s (CD’s if you are old-school)”
Not very many people know that CDs and DVDs have a shelf-life, perhaps 10 years if you are lucky. You should not be surprised, like many of us, when trying to read one of those 5-year-old DVDs. The noise and frustration while the media tries to read over and over, will most likely lead to unsuccessful data load. CDs and DVDs are great for irrelevant or temporary data storage only. If optical devices are the core of your backup strategy you may be doomed from the beginning.
Strategy: “Secret folder with my hosted service”
You will not be the first to realize that using your website host may be a great solution for backup, but you are WRONG! The Terms of Service clearly state that “servers are not intended as a data backup or archiving service”. Maybe you’d like to think twice before you expose all your data to unprotected web host which has zero liability for those files. Web host are designed and configured to be just that, 99% up-time web servers, not liable to back up your files.
Strategy: “Controlled convenience”
This strategy (manual backup) leads to the next one (not a time sensitive) listed below but they are one and the same, just appearing slightly different! This is why we decided to merge them together. Most people save their files to user profile, some programs may use different locations in which case you have to locate those first and make sure you back them up according to how you use them. Although you probably know where most of your files are, it is likely that some of your crucial files are somewhere else entirely. Merged together this “strategy” is dangerous mostly because manual backup is not more than occasional data copy!
Strategy: “Use an External USB Drive”
It may not surprise you that this is by far the most popular “backup strategy”! While it may appear like a good solution, problems related to this approach are immense. From a drive dropped on the floor, to the fact that nearly 1 in 10 drives fail per year, to forgetting that your backpack you tossed so many times today may have your only backup copy inside.
Strategy: “Umbrella effect”
Using your work laptop to store your personal files (in most cases, family photos) and counting on company backup strategy to kick in? Good luck with that as most companies don’t back up laptops and/or desktops, only servers. From the company’s point of view, files such as music and photos are not relevant and will likely be excluded from backing up.
RAID is not a backup! Most people do not understand this, even people who configured their own RAID. Having files immediately written to two or more drives sounds like a good idea, especially when you are dealing with single drive failure, but having a RAID is not exactly having a backup. It’s more like having a fast and relatively fail-safe drive which still needs a proper backup strategy.
Again, there is a big difference between storage and backup. Cloud is yet another storage technology while backups, or backing up, refers to the actual copies or copying of files and data. While your backup strategy encompasses the full strategy for responding to a data loss event and putting the backups created into action.
All listed above are not a backup strategies! The absolute best backup strategy is 3-2-1 backup. Make three backup copies to two different type of devices and keep one copy offsite!