What is the best way to backup my data?

Everyone talks about knowing how valuable their data is but only those that have lost important data really know the true cost. The obvious choice is to back up your data, so what is the best technology to back up your data with? The main options include:

Online Automated Backup - You pay an on-going subscription fee, install a small program, and specify the folders and files to be backed up. It runs all the time and as soon as new data is created it is automatically backed up to the service provider’s servers. This option has the added bonus that your data is stored offsite so if there is a disaster it will be easily recoverable. This option can be used on both PCs and servers; however it the down side for some people is that your data is stored on a 3rd party’s servers, which you may not be comfortable with depending on the sensitivity of your data. Recommended providers of this service are Carbonite, Mozy & Iron Mountain.

Tape - A more traditional approach is the use of magnetic tapes, typically configured to run on a server only backing up specified folders and files. The backup routine is configured to run on a particular schedule, commonly daily (per working day), monthly or yearly. All tapes should be taken and stored offsite and/or kept within a fire proof safe.

External hard drive/CD/DVD - This option is primarily aimed towards single PC backup, consisting of a manual process of copying folders and files to an external hard drive or CD/DVD. The approach is time consuming and easy to ‘forget’ therefore, one that we do not recommend. It is now quite common that external hard drives will include free backup software, which once installed will prompt you to select the files and folders to backup, then set a frequency (daily, weekly, monthly) to connect to the drive and allow a backup to be performed.

In summary, as internet connectivity is now so fast we would recommend an online backup solution as this is suitable for PCs and Servers and once installed no interaction is required as all data is backup offsite automatically.

Regardless of how you back up your data we strongly suggest that you frequently test that the solution is working by performing a test restore (retrieving your data from the backup). Your data backup is only reliable if it can be restored successfully.