Backup backup backup – Part 1

In Backup, Backup, Backup, IT, Servers

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When was the last time you took a backup of your documents, photos, music? Working for an IT company there is often talk around backups and making sure that backups are working and correct. Over the last few years I have seen an increase in people becoming more conscious of doing a backup of their computers information. Largely this has arisen from the use of digital cameras. I know from first hand how annoying and upsetting it can be when you loose a copy of a photo.

Whilst working for a small church several years ago I set up a backup server. It was very basic and ran on an old computer. To my amazement I received a phone call from the church pastor a few months ago who informed me that the office pc had died and that the server saved the day by having the files on.

Over the course of various posts I aim to look at various types of backup solutions and ideas, for IT, AV, websites as well as a few others. As I have started this with IT this seems a good place to start.

 

Why What and When?

The backing up of files in a business environment has been in place for many years. As technology and hard drives have become bigger more people have become aware if the need to back their computer data up.

For many thought knowing what to and what not to back up is important. The simple answer to this is anything you feel is important and you want backed up that could be anything from word documents photos, music. In a business environment it is mainly the users data and the servers which are backed up.

How often depends on your setup but generally as often as possible. In a business / office environment servers are generally backed up at least once a day, this could be to a variety of solutions, including onsite, offsite and removable. Files of an extremely important nature I would suggest when ever you make a change.

Storing backups and choosing a backup method though can be a mine field for those not so tech savvy. The following is not designed to provide all the information, instead it is aimed at giving advice on a variety of solutions.

 

The USB Hard drive.

For many people the easiest, simplest and most common way of backing files up is with a USB memory stick or hard drive. Although a great place to start it fails on several areas.  How many times have you lost or mislaid a memory stick? If you are going to use a memory stick as a permanent solution then I would suggest keeping this separately from your normal day to day ones. Another area this fails is that it provides only one copy. Ideally the best solution is to have multiple copies of your backups so if one fails then you have a backup. A better and safer solution for many is the use of a cloud based solution.

 

Cloud backups.

Who remembers a time before the Internet and ‘cloud’ based services. I still somewhere at home have floppy disks, more for the historicalness of them than to actually use them but for many years these were my backup solution. How times have changed. In recent years there has been arise in the number of ‘cloud storage services’ with many offerimg free storage of around 5 – 20gb. What is cloud storage? Well simply it’s some servers in a server farm with lots of storage which you can upload files on to. The most common are generally Dropbox, One Drive (Microsoft) and Google drive. All three of these along with others offer the same basic service, file storage.  The idea of each is that you install a program on your computer which creates a local folder which then syncs the information in this to the cloud. The great thing with cloud storage is once it’s up there it’s 99% secure.

For an individual this is great as it provides a simple but secure backup with lots of redundancy, although it does require the user to put their files in the correct folder. A downside to this solution is that it requires an internet connection to communicate with the cloud.

In part 2 I will be looking at on-premises solutions and various setups along with a combined cloud and on-premises setup.

Anthony Lear

Anthony lives in Sheffield with his wife Fiona and daughter Naomi. He works for Hawthorn within the event projects team as a Project technician focusing on Video. Anthony is the founder of Church Tech UK, an initiative designed to support, develop and equip those that work and volunteer within a technical capacity in UK Churches.

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