Have you ever lost something incredibly important to you? Even if it is only gone for a little while it can be a completely nerve-wrecking experience. Now, think about all of the precious data you have on your computer. How much is that worth to you? Now that you have that in your mind, let me ask you, if your computer were to crash, would you ever see any of that information again?

As the graphic above shows, backups can be the difference between life and death in the business world; however, is it not equally important at home? Whether you are a big business that needs to keep up with its ever growing client list or a home PC user; your data is bound to be one of the most important things you have. Your data is the quite possibly the one thing you own that cannot be replaced, even more so when it comes to the data on your computer. Whether it is pictures, home videos, music, that 600 page dissertation you have been working on for the past five years or your book keeping, the potential loss of data is something you need to be prepared to deal with.

Data, particularly in digital form, is quite susceptible to damage or loss and you should take steps to mitigate the damage catastrophic data loss can cause. Luckily, on the other hand, digital data is typically quite easy to copy. Because of the ability to replicate your digital data so freely, you have many backup options available.

1. Local Data-Only Backups

This is as basic as it sounds, you back up your data from one device locally to another. This is most commonly done with an external hard drive, flash drive or a local file server. This option has several great benefits, but comes with a few risks as well.

Benefits

    • Lower Costs

The upfront cost may be higher, but once you own the backup media, you typically have no more costs to worry about.

    • Does Not Rely on an Internet Connection
    • Speed

Local backups are normally the fastest option available, this is because the data typically doesn’t have as far to travel.

    • Ease of Use

Many operating systems have options for automated local backups built in and using them is simply a matter of turning them on and telling them where to store the backup

    • Security

You have more control over where your data is and who has access to it.

    • Hardware Independent

Data backups can normally be restored to different computers, regardless of differences in hardware configuration.

Risks

    • Being in the same geographic location makes your data vulnerable to physical disasters like a fire and theft.
    • Vulnerable to viruses and malware.
    • Medium to long recovery time can leave your business crippled for hours or days.

This may seem contradictory to speed, but for a business, if a server goes down, it can take a long time to get ready for data import.

  • Most vulnerable to hardware damage.

2. Local Image Backups

Think of an image backup as a total system backup; instead of just copying data, the whole hard drive (or a partition of it) gets backed up. That way in the event of total drive failure all you need to do is replace the failing drive with a backup and you are back up and running. These backups have a lot of the same benefits and risks as local data backups as well.

Benefits

    • Costs

Image backups typically require some software that can be rather expensive. There are manual free options, but they require significant downtime for the device you are backing up. Other than the software, you are looking at about the same cost as local data backups.

    • Does Not Rely on an Internet Connection
    • Speed

Backups take slightly longer than local data-only backups, but recovery times in case of failures are significantly reduced.

  • Security

Risks

    • Same vulnerability to local disasters like fire or theft
    • Still vulnerable to viruses and malware
    • Can be difficult to set up correctly

Unless you are tech-savvy, you will probably have to hire someone to set up and maintain this for you.

    • Hardware Dependent

Image backups can be difficult to restore if there is a significant hardware change (new computer, motherboard, etc.).

3. Cloud Backups

Using cloud backups means uploading data to the internet. Cloud backups come with some great benefits as well as some significant risks. Before you use a cloud backup service, it is important to research the service and make sure it is compliant with your security and accessibility needs.

Benefits

    • Scale-able pricing

Many cloud backup services use a “pay for what you use” model, meaning you don’t pay for a lot of extra space you don’t need.

    • Ease of Use

Many cloud backup services can be set up by installing an application and telling the program which files you need backed up. The system then will do the backups automatically.

    • Your data is available wherever you have the internet!

Simply logging into your cloud account allows you to access your data from around the world!

  • Cloud backups can also be used as a medium for file sharing with your peers
  • Hardware Independent

Risks

    • Recurring Costs Can Add Up Quickly

Cloud services are typically pay by the month or year and those costs can add up very quickly.

    • Requires Internet Connection

If your internet goes out, your data will not be backed up! Luckily, the service will kick back in once connectivity is restored

    • Security

You are trusting another entity with your data. Be very careful with the selection for your cloud service. If you are handling sensitive data, I would recommend moving up to an enterprise grade backup service.

    • Virus and Malware Vulnerability

While not as vulnerable as a local backup, viruses can still mess with your backed up data. Most often, this is because the virus corrupts a file and the corrupted version replaces the good version in the cloud. The only way to mitigate this is with revision control (old versions remain backed up as new versions are added), which is a feature typically only available to more expensive cloud options.

    • Longer Backup and Recovery times

Since you are going over the internet, backup and recovery speeds are directly tied to how fast your connection is.

4.Enterprise Cloud Backups

With the convenience of Cloud Backups, it is only natural that the business world would want to use the advantages; however, some of the risks with cloud services are deal breakers. Out of a desire to mitigate the risks of cloud backup services, enterprise solutions were developed.

Benefits

    • Scale-able pricing

While the price tag is obviously higher, the “pay for what you use” model is often still in effect. With that in mind, remember that some of these benefits are only available if you pay extra for them.

    • Enhanced Security

Security is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to cloud based backup services. It is only natural that it is one of the key focuses of enterprise grade cloud backup services. Often enterprise cloud services offer services like encryption with all of their packages. Some going as far as to offer…

    • HIPAA Compliance Mode

With this feature, your data is given the upmost level of security, companies that offer this service claim that they cannot access your data at all. The ones I am familiar with don’t even have password recovery options, meaning if you get locked out of your account, the company that cannot even help you get back in.

    • Your data is available wherever you have the internet!

Simply logging into your cloud account allows you to access your data from around the world!

    • Fast Recovery Options Available
    • Cloud Based Server Image Backup

That’s right, you can get benefits of total image backup with Enterprise cloud solutions as well.

    • Virtual Server Deployment

Some services have the option to load your server on the cloud to speed up your disaster recovery, with some companies boasting a less than 15 minute downtime!

    • Revision Control

Older versions of files remain backed up as well as new ones. This means that the risks of viruses and malware are significantly mitigated.

  • Hardware Independent

Risks

    • High Costs

With great features comes a great price tag, and on top of that, a lot of those costs are recurring.

    • Still Requires Internet Connection
    • Security

You are still trusting another company with your data, make sure they are a good match for your security needs.

Obviously there are more options available, and to tell you the truth, my preference is a mixture of several of these options. Remember, everyone’s backup needs are different, so if you are not sure what you need, please call our sister company CPU Onsite at (806)340-7314 and set up a consultation today. As always, if you have any comments or concerns, please let us know on the contact page.