backing up my data

There’s no question that backing up your data is very important for you and your business.

You often hear tech companies talking about the importance of backups, and how every business needs them. But they often don’t tell you much apart from the general “everyone needs a backup” and “everyone’s backup solution will be different”.

While that is true, that still doesn’t tell you how people will be backing up your data. Anyone can say that they will ensure your information is safe, but without telling you how they can keep it safe, that statement means nothing.

So what will your backup look like, and what will it do for your data? Let’s take a look.

Direct Attached Storage (DAS)

Direct attached storage, or its acronym DAS, sounds like a really fancy name for a storage solution. What it means is a portable device that you can connect to your computer or server that can store the data located there.

You’ve probably seen this before, as most external hard drives will fall under this category. Before hard drives, we used to have USB thumb drives which made our data portable, and kept it safe in the event something happened to it.

These storage devices can hold a lot of data, and you would know that if you’ve ever looked at the size of an external hard drive. They are quite good for backups of information, and with proper sorting, become a convenient access point for most of your data.

It’s also easy to take these devices out of your company, and data is extremely difficult to hack if a device hasn’t been connected to anything. However, as the devices can be taken and removed, each attached storage device can be a target for theft.

Still, this is the storage option that many people are familiar with, and it should be part of your company’s backup strategy.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Direct attached storage devices connect directly to your computer and/or server, so network attached storage, or NAS, would connect directly to your network. Once connected, you can do the same backup processes as you would do with DAS.

This is particularly useful if you have a company network that has multiple users, as the process of backing up files on a network will be much faster than your employees backing up all of their data on external hard drives, and then uploading all of that into another separate hard drive.

Just like a company network, you would need network authority to access the data normally, so you won’t have to worry about unauthorised usage of NAS devices. It’s also more accessible, as employees just need a network connection to access this data.

You’re most likely to see this in the form of a server rather than a hard drive, and you might already have seen NAS devices in other companies. When people are talking about company servers, that’s a good example of NAS in action.

NAS devices are great for backups as they will be the centralised location where all of your information is stored. It’s also accessible only to authorised users, and can create backups of all the information in the event of a crisis.

Disaster Proof Storage

Everyone thinks they will lose their data by theft or hacking, which is not entirely wrong. But in rare cases, you might lose your data by natural causes, such as fires, floods and possibly even an earthquake.

This may sound incredibly unlikely and for good reason. It’s great that we aren’t living in a society where fires and floods are common, and thankfully we don’t often hear about natural disasters in our local news.

However, that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. There have been restaurants who have been burned down by fires. There have been unexpected floods that have cost people millions of dollars. Large gusts of wind can potentially blow over objects and destroy technology.

The worst thing you can tell your customers is that despite all the care and effort you put in to telling them that their information is safe with you, but then you can’t do so anymore because you lost all of their data to a fire. It’s not a strong statement of confidence and trust, if you know what I mean.

That’s why many technology experts, when discussing your backup strategy, will bring up disaster proof storage. These are storage devices (often servers) which are located in places that are built to withstand a disaster. The locations are also away from your main office (known as an offsite location), so that if something happened to your office, you still had accessible data.

Disaster proof storage is more important than you think. In the event that something happens at your company which compromises your data, you’ve got a safe place to get it back. It’s the equivalent of a time capsule, only you dig it up and update the contents far more frequently, and you only touch that capsule when something bad has happened.

Of course, no one would ever intentionally wish for a natural disaster to happen. But in the unlikely event it does, it’s better that you have a plan for that rather than no plan at all.

With the world’s environment constantly changing into something worse, it might not even be a paranoid thought anymore.

Cloud Backups

You’ve often heard the term “cloud computing” and it’s something that we at MSP Blueshift have written about before.

The “cloud” is really a server operating in a different location, sometimes even a different country, which stores your data so you can work from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection and a way to access the cloud.

It’s not a foreign concept anymore. Programs such as Dropbox are key examples of the cloud, while Google Documents and Microsoft Office 365 are systems that aim to bring the cloud closer to you in your everyday lives.

Cloud storage is great for backups, as it keeps your files in a manner similar to NAS, only it’s not as easy to access, since the data moves around far more often than it would in a traditional server network.

Many companies are offering secure cloud storage solutions for this very reason. If designed properly, they can be effective safeguards for your data. Their safety is also very tight, which means you can sleep easily at night believing that they will be alright.

You might be wondering why you can’t just use a free service such as Dropbox or Google documents to store your data. After all, it’s free, and if it’s so safe, why should it make a difference?

But just as you won’t store your money in a shoebox under your bed, you pay for what you get, and you pay for extra protections and security.

Private Cloud Systems

If putting all of your data in something like Dropbox seems concerning, it might be because that even if you do pay, you’re putting your data into Dropbox’s hands, and this isn’t comfortable for everyone.

Even then, that’s still on a public cloud system, which can be targeted by hackers and be subject to online laws.

Some companies are opting to buy their own cloud system, which works just as well as a public cloud, but has all the benefits of private ownership.

Of course, such a system is expensive and it’s not for everyone’s needs. But it is an option that some technology companies are willing to do for you if you have an actual need/desire for a private cloud.

DVD/Tape Backups

While this isn’t as common anymore, some companies still prefer using old methods of backups, such as DVDs and tape drives. They aren’t as common as they used to be, but as they aren’t as easy to access as an external hard drive, it may be another option if you are extremely cautious about your data storage.

Do keep in mind that if you keep DVDs and tape drives as a backup, you will need a way to access DVDs as computers are not carrying DVD ports as much as they used to. Tape drives can also wear out, which is one of the reasons they stopped being so popular in the first place.

Make A Better Decision On Your Backups

Being told that you need to have a backup strategy can be confusing, as you aren’t always aware of what your data is going to be backed up on.

As always, information is key. It never hurts to do a bit of research and bring some information to the table. You’ll find that anyone who designs a backup strategy will enjoy the fact that you are more informed, as this helps them design something that fits you better, rather than working with generalizations.

If you’re ever looking for a backup strategy or solution designed for you, it pays to find out what is going in the plan. That way, you have a clear understanding of where your data is, how it’s protected, and how you can access it in the unlikely event that things go wrong.

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