Backups on the cheap

We know that everyone has heard this before, and we know that you don’t do it. But everyone will learn sooner or later that backups are a necessary evil when dealing with high-tech surprises and good,old-fashioned tragedies. I want to talk to you about how painless doing backups can be.

The medium you choose for storage should be related to the amount of data you want to backup. You need to be honest, how much data do you truly need to backup? Home users will want to backup addresses, tax or financial information, pictures, and personal items. Business owners will want to backup contracts, contacts, financial information, and operating data. I would argue that both of these groups can get by with a USB Mini Drive. I know it seems a bit small, but I want you to decide what data you absolutely need to have at a moments notice, and I want you to move other data (3 year old email, 2GB worth of baby photos, ….) off onto CD.

For business owners, this is a great opportunity to take a stock of the information generated by your business. What is valuable data that you can mine for trends? Take the time to identify what is really valuable and back it up regularly. Weekly is the minimum. I would shoot for daily. Store copies offsite. Don’t let a break-in or hurricane destroy the information that takes months and years to gather. For businesses that still have a lot of data to backup (up to 200 GB), I would suggest the Maxtor One Touch, because the ease of use makes it more likely that users will actually run the backups.
Backup Philosophy

Now that you have identified what information you need, I want you to look at how the data is stored. Is it a text format that you can open up and look at? Or print a copy for your accountant? When exporting data for backups, I suggest using a comma delimited format or csv. This format is human readable, so you could print it out and make calls by looking it a piece of paper. It is also recognized by just about every program written since the 1970s. I think there is something incredibly reassuring knowing that you can open up your backups anywhere you are and get back to work.

Nobody likes to test their backups. It takes so long just to make them, then you want to go back. This is the most important part. Unverified backups could fail you when you need them most. Take the time once a week to check your backups. This is why you want to use simple, text formats if you can. These will be easier to import/export, and can be visually inspected quickly

We hope you can use these ideas to improve your backup strategy; and we hope you never have to use them.

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