18 May 2018
DA Backup Guide Image

A 3-2-1 backup strategy means having at least 3 total copies of your data. 2 of the copies are local, but on different devices and at least 1 copy offsite. The 3-2-1 backup strategy is the best practice, because it ensures that you’ll have a copy of your data no matter what happens. Multiple copies prevent you from losing the only copy of your data. Multiple locations ensure that there is no single point of failure and that your data is safe from disasters, such as fire and flood. Data Analyzers Recovery Division recommends that whenever speaking to a backup vendor, you make sure that you ask them how their backup solution fits with 3-2-1 compliance.

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What to Consider When Choosing a Backup Device

Any backup strategy starts with a concept of a data repository. The backup data needs to be stored, and probably should be organized to a degree. Below you will find basic, but critical considerations when choosing your backup device.

Amount of Data (How much data are your storing?)

The general rule is to back up your data to a device with a capacity of 2–3 times the amount of data you intend to store. This is because you may underestimate what you will need and soon you will need more space. To avoid this, get the bigger drive the first time around.

If you have 1TB of data, for example, you probably only need a 2TB backup drive. Notice that the size of your device does not matter, but rather the amount of data on that device!

Performance is something to think about, too. If you have a fairly small data set, then backing up to a slower moving hard disk drive (HDD) or uploading to a cloud service will not take too long. On the other hand, if you have terabytes upon terabytes of data, you may want to consider a faster performing device, such as an SSD. Backing up a large data set directly to the cloud will be painfully slow and may literally take weeks to complete a single backup.

Portability (Do you need a portable backup device?)

If your backup drive is going to sit in one place until it’s full, a simple desktop internal HDD is all you need. They are inexpensive and generally trustworthy for a few years of regular use.

If you’re backing up on the go a lot, consider the size of your files. Documents, for example, are small in size and a cloud service may work for you. For those who prefer to keep their backup close, portable or external hard drives may be the best solution.

If you use image editing software, take raw photos or otherwise produce large-size files, and you plan to move your backup device frequently, you may want to consider using an SSD. They are more expensive than HDDs for the same capacity, but they do tend to be more physically durable. This is because, unlike a spinning disk HDD, solid state technology has no moving parts.

Length of Storage (How often are you backing up to your device(s) and how long do you intend to store your data?)

Keep in mind that storage devices fail and data becomes lost for all kinds of reasons, many unforeseen. Environment, age, usage and other factors all affect the lifespan of a device and the data on it. It is not uncommon for Data Analyzers to recover data from numerous backup devices due to poor backup planning. Some of those devices are listed below:

Hard Disk Drive Storage

When storing an HDD for archival reasons and not using it frequently, you don’t really have to worry about physical failure or head crash. However, over time, an HDD loses its magnetic property and therefore loses its ability to hang onto those bits of data. The length of time it takes for data to deteriorate in this way could be a decade or two, but we recommend checking the drive every year to make sure your data is still readable.

Solid State Drive Storage

SSDs are more physically durable than HDDs, but they don’t hold data forever, either. The cells in the NAND flash, which act as electron traps, will “leak” over time. SSDs have not been around long enough to know for sure how long the data on an SSD will last in storage, but we recommend also checking them every year.

Tape Storage

Bulky tape storage systems are not ideal for your daily backup routine, as the tape itself can be fragile and constant starts and stops can dramatically affect its durability. However, it is a great choice for long-term storage. In an ideal climate with low humidity and steady, cool temperature, a data tape can last for decades! However, we recommend you check them every two to three years.

Optical Storage

The average CD and DVD is definitely not a good choice for long-term storage, but CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray disks are not the only optical storage devices available. There are new options for optical storage with lifespans expected to far outlast any other type of data storage. New technologies like the SpaceX 5D quartz laser storage device is said to be, “a high tech, high data storage unit that can survive the harsh environment of space”. This may soon be a perfect choice for you.

Accessibility (How easily do you need to access your data?)

If you back up your computer and then never touch your backup, accessibility is not necessary more than once every few months, just to check your backups and make sure everything is running as it should and your copied files are not corrupt. However, if you frequently need access to the same data on multiple devices, a cloud service may be worth looking into. Make sure to read lots of independent reviews and research a service’s reliability and security before making a choice.

Number of Devices (How many devices are you backing up?)

If you want to backup several devices to one location, a network attached storage (NAS) device may be best. A NAS may consist of a single drive, a RAID or a group of devices acting together. It is critical to understand, if you are writing your data directly to the NAS, or any other device, that is not a backup. A backup is a copy of your original data—not the only copy of your data. We recently partially recovered data to a customer who used one external hard drive as his “one copy backup”.

For a home user or anyone with a relatively small amount of data, a good strategy may be to regularly back up your computer to both an external drive and a cloud backup service so you can quickly copy data daily without interrupting your day-to-day activities. External and internal hard drives also work well for relatively small data sets.

For a business user or anyone with a large amount of data, a good strategy may be to mirror two RAID-6 servers (using HDDs or SSDs), add tape backup to your solution, or utilize the business class cloud service.

The suggestions above may not suit you. The best thing you can do to properly protect your data is consult a trusted IT, whether that be a local computer shop, your company admin or a nationwide data recovery leader, like Data Analyzers.