Data Backup: Considering Your Options and The Alternative
The simple truth is that people don’t realize that saving information on their local hard drive can easily be lost. How you might ask? Your local hard drive just failed resulting in data loss. Or an organization that works in an environment with restricted access might not be able to access that information. If you lose the data, the labor an individual put into working on a document, spreadsheet, or a presentation has to be started all over again. Lost time. Lost cost. Behind schedule.
Data Backup Options
This can be remedied easily with the use of backups, which in turn, can allow the user access data previously saved. And nowadays, there are many methods to be able to backup data including:
- Cloud Storage – Using a service like Dropbox or iCloud. A one-stop shop for accessing files from any device. While your data is private, there is a lack of security over where the data is being stored (server).
- NAS (Network Attached Storage) – Provides primary location to share files on the network Group of drives configured for fault-tolerance. Provides fault-tolerant protection with a variety of RAID-level options. Very expensive.
- External Hard Drives – This only works if the hard drive requirements have been met:
- Stored in a secure (remote) location
As was previously stated at the beginning of this blog, the con is that the hard drive can fail.
- Tape Backup – Can store more data and is currently a much more affordable option than NAS or hard drives. The drawback with this option is the wear and tear (reliability) of the manual, hands-on approach of handling tapes.
While it might not be long-term approach of the others, tape backup is still the most common and still delivers due to my description above.
Tape Backup Strategy
With that in mind, there are three backup types used:
- Full Backup – This will take care of backing up everything that is requested to be backed up. But quite frankly, it is unnecessary to do a full backup every day. The length of time it requires is too long. Furthermore, this can clog a network up with users attempting to do their regular job. A recommendation is for a full tape backup to be performed on the weekend and limiting problems normal work duties. The cost of additional tapes and their drives should also be considered as a limiting factor. The good news is that restoring a full backup is easy. You use only one tape.
- Differential Backup – Combined with a full backup, the differential backup will only backup files that changed since the last full backup. This will minimize the time to restore both the full and differential backup in the event of a hard drive failure.
- Incremental Backup – Combined with a full backup, the incremental backup will backup files that changed since the last incremental backup. This will minimize the time to backup the previous backup, which occurred the previous day.
Note: Another important consideration when looking at tape backups is to choose a secondary location, preferably offsite, as a disaster recovery facility in case data is lost. This will allow an organization to perform backups and restore those backups with minimal downtime.
In conclusion, it is up to the organization to utilize backups in case data is lost or corrupted. Costs and time should be given strong consideration when an organization examines what approach should be best. But as long as there is a strategy to backup data, the organization will not have to worry about losing data….forever.
About the Guest Author
Paul Brickman is a Senior Project Manager at Northrop Grumman Corporation. He has earned his CompTIA Security+ certification.