How much of your work can you afford to lose? Can you redo a month worth of work, a week worth or a day worth. How much of an impact would it have on your business if you had to have to spend hours or days or weeks reconstructing your work. Fortunately, as a business owner you don’t need to worry about this. Computer backup technology has got to the point where is can be painless and relatively inexpensive to have a comprehensive disaster plan. The key to the plan is to make an effective plan and then to follow it.
What is a computer backup?
Backing up your computer means that you are making a copy of your data or software or both in another format. Your data is currently stored on the hard drive of your computer. You need to do this because the question is not if your hard drive will crash one day, but when it will crash. Most computer hard drives consist of a combination of electronics and mechanical components. Some solid state hard drives do not have spinning disks that the more common drives have. A hard drive will fail if one of the mechanical components fails or if a part of the data on that hard drive becomes corrupted. If you have a recent backup, you can recover the contents of your hard drive.
Different formats of backups
Computers can be backed up using different formats. It used to be that we would back up to a floppy drive. Floppy drives generally had space for 1.44 MB of data. Today there are many more options. These formats include:
- CD – up to 800 MB data – can be a one-time write or multiple writes with drawbacks
- DVD – up to 4.7GB data – can be a one-time write or multiple writes with drawbacks
- Flash drive – 1 GB to 16 GB or more – can be re-written
- External hard drive – 80 GB to 1 TB or more – can be re-written
- Tape – unlimited (usually used in a server situation) – can be re-written
- WEB based – whatever you can afford
Types of Backups
Image – an image is an exact copy of your entire hard drive. This includes the operating system, software and data. If your drive crashes or otherwise becomes unusable, you can use the image to reconstruct whatever was on your drive at the time of the image.
Folder / file – if you choses this system, you choose which files you want to backup. You may choose documents, photos, videos, favourites or e-mail or any combination of these items. You should not be backing up software unless it is the *.exe file of small software. Packages such as Office or QuickBooks must be reinstalled. The data from these packages should be backed up but the software needs to be reinstalled.
Incremental backups – In doing an incremental backup means that this type of backup involves only those files that have changed since the last backup. Since changes are typically slow, incremental backup is much smaller and quicker than a full backup.
Differential – In doing a differential backup means that you are doing a backup of all changes made since the last full backup. The recovery time is generally quicker than the incremental.
The final step in making any kind of a backup is testing that backup to make sure that the data is valid. This involves doing a test restore.
The backup is an integral part of your disaster recovery plan. Without it you are heading for a disaster.