When asked why a manager had not backed up before a catastrophic data loss event, what excuse do you think they had? We believe that there are rebuttals and solutions for any excuse and have put together this list of the common reasons for not performing data backups and why you should go ahead anyway. Do you use any of these excuses? Read on to find out!
1. Your client data is too sensitive
Understandably if you are working on a highly sensitive project, or in an industry such as financial, government or even military, it would be prudent to be extra vigilant, and what worse way to invite data leaks than to have an unsecured backup? However, this is no excuse because today there are multiple alternatives besides having a hard drive sitting in a locked safe. Many online backup services now offer over 256-bit encryption for files (to break it, you would need 50 supercomputers attacking the data for 3×1051 years) and offer 128-bit secure tunneling for delivery of files.
2. You have too much data
Back in the mid-90s, the 3 ½ inch floppy disk was the versatile backup option of choice, with a large 3.1mb to store anything you need. In today’s world, data is measured in terabytes (the equivalent of three hundred thousand floppy disks per terabyte) which makes many previous storage options unrealistic. However, online backup services now offer unlimited storage for a fraction of the cost; from under $10 a month, you can have as much data as you need.
3. You don’t have access to the internet
In previous articles we highlighted the advantages of online data backup solutions; however, they all rely on the fact that your system has near constant access to the internet. So how do we protect against critical data loss events if we have no internet connection? Don’t let this be an excuse, and resort to the old-fashioned method of having a local server (that mirrors to prevent data corruption) or simple USB sticks to back up crucial files.
4. You don’t have enough time to backup
Naturally, with a large amount of data, you may be concerned with how long or how much effort is required to back up all your files. In 2018, an average computer can back up 500gb every 17 minutes. Surprisingly, the bottleneck of backing up data is not the internet connection (the strength of a wireless network can significantly influence speed, so we recommend a hard cable connection) but in fact, the speed of the hard drive. Older hard drives are more limited in transferring files off itself due to read/write speeds and are best to be left overnight. A more modern SSD (Solid State Drive) will be much faster.
If you are backing up to the cloud online, then most services offer an “in the background” data backup, that works quietly and efficiently as you go about your day. This does not require any user input (no dragging of files or forgetting what you backed up last) and will automatically back up your entire drive every day at a specific time.
5. You only back up final versions
You want to be efficient and only backup the final work delivered to clients, or important milestones, so you don’t bother with day by day or even hourly backups. This is the wrong backup mentality because although you might not lose data if your system goes down between backups, you will never know what ‘subtle’ data you have lost forever. It’s the equivalent of having a brilliant idea and not writing it down. Don’t do your work twice but do it right the first time.
6. Bonus: You already backed up, but hard drives can fail at any time
If you have made it this far without falling prey to one of the above excuses, you might consider yourself lucky. But what if we told you that just because you backed up, it does not mean your data is safe. All methods of data storage can and will fail. As a data backup practitioner, you need to keep in mind in what medium you have placed your item, and how long you can expect it to last. Here is a list of the most common data types and when you will need to replace them.
- Floppy disk – 2 years of constant use, or up to 15 years when the magnetic disk fails.
- Magnetic tape, including digital tapes – 10 years of use, or 30 years of little use.
- Hard drives – 2–5 years of constant use, or 30 years when dormant.
- Solid state drive (SSD) – up to 5–10 years with constant use.
- CDs and DVDs – 2–5 years of constant use. Yes, they are the shortest lifespan on this list, that’s why they are so cheap.
- USB sticks – Up to 10 years, but you are more likely to lose the USB before the data expires. Plus USB drives are continually changing, and soon the interface technology may be lost forever. Some devices, especially from Apple, no longer come with the standard USB 2.0 drive.
- Vinyl Records / M Disk – Like a CD/DVD but with the actual data pressed into the surface. While not practical for data backup technically can last for hundreds of years.
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Backing up data on the cloud will technically last forever, but some key ideas to note:
- The cloud is still susceptible to the problems of companies that run them. If the firm hosting your files goes out of business, what happens to their servers?
- What if you lose access to the internet? The data might still exist, but it is essentially unreachable.
- Format aging. Ironically, your files might exist for so long that there is no program or operating system left to read them. Sometimes, a company chooses to no longer update their software (For example, Apple not updating Final Cut Pro, its movie editing software, in 2007, causing .FCP files to be obsolete in a few years.) In extreme cases, the files become obsolete so fast that they are left behind (e.g., Macromedia Flash files were quickly replaced by html5 overnight).