Backing up your data is important. This page contains valuable information about why we do backups, includes some rules to consider, and provides some simple instructions on how to back up data.
Why do we make backups? Your data is valuable, so consider: "How much would it cost to restore lost data, in case it disappears from the system?" Very often, the value of the data on a system is much greater than the value of the computer, so an effort must be made to protect this asset. You need insurance (and you pay for it), but hope that you never need it! It is the same with backups: You make them, hoping that you never need them, but it is too dangerous to live without them. It’s not unusual to hear of companies who lost their valuable data, didn't have a good backup, and subsequently went out of business.
What could destroy your data?
• Disk-crashes: Your hard drive fails. Today, disks are fairly reliable, but it still happens.
• User/Operator mistake: Much more often, data is accidentally deleted by the user.
• Sabotage: This really happens. An angry associate deletes company or family file!
• Water: Natural and man-made water disasters occur.
• Fire: Buildings down. It is very easy to quickly replace hardware, but what about the data?
• Theft: Systems get stolen. It happens more often than you think.
• Viruses: This is maybe the most common reason. Some viruses are very destructive and delete some or all files from your data.
Have you ever thought: "Oh, I make my backups to my second hard disk?” Well, could these backups protect you against the reasons listed above? Of course not. Please consider the following rules of backing up your data.
Develop a Backup Plan. Develop a plan for doing your backups. Before you begin, decide:
• What software you will use to do backups? (For Windows systems, use the backup utility included with the operating system, or 3rd party software.)
• What data you will be backing up? (personal or business profiles and data files)
• How often will you be backing up the data? (daily, weekly or monthly)
• What type of media will you back up to? (see Rule #3)
• Where will the media be stored? (see Rule #2)
Make your backup on media that can be removed and stored in a SAFE place! It does NOT help if you make backups on external media but store them all next to the system. A fire would destroy them with the computer. In professional environments, backup media is stored in fire-proof safes, or off site at a storage facility, or in bank-safes.
The backup-media (an external drive, or a memory stick) must be of sufficient size/capacity to allow a complete backup to be made without having to swap the media. This allows for an unattended backup! If you have to be present during the backup to swap media every "x" minutes, experience has shown, you will soon lose interest in doing backups ...and then stop altogether.
Some might say: "Well, I make my backup's to floppy diskettes." Not a good idea! With today's modern PC's, which usually have many gigabytes of personal or business data, using floppy disks is no longer an option. It would take approximately 750 floppies to back up just 1GB, not to mention the amount of time involved in swapping diskettes.
For home use and for small business usage, a typical backup device will be a removable hard drive, an external hard drive or a removable memory stick.
It’s a good idea to have multiple backup media so you can rotate backup jobs on different media.
You should also have multiple backup jobs available in the event of a crash. One is not enough. In the even you need to restore a backup, what happens if your backup job is bad or the media has errors and it's your only backup? You have just lost your only backup! Plan on having at least three current backups jobs available on at least three separate media.
Also, plan on replacing older media.
These instruction focus on the Small Office Home Office (SOHO) businesses with small databases (i.e., several gigabytes). For these, you can use the generic backup utility that comes with the operating system. This is a good backup utility when your database is small and the backup job doesn't need to run very long. However, if it will take longer to back up your data, you will probably want to schedule all backup jobs to run at night (unattended) when the system is least busy. Remember, if you can schedule your backup jobs to run at night, do it. (For a more robust backup utility with more features, you might want to consider buying a third party backup utility such as Veritas to run your backup jobs. Veritas had many outstanding features, including the ability to schedule backup jobs to run unattended at night.)
The typical backup plan for a small business could include running one full data backup job per day or per week.
Note: Remember, it does not hurt to leave your computers on during the night. They don’t use much energy and don’t create a lot of heat. In principle, you could plan to leave your PCs on 24 hours a day during the week and then just turn them off over the weekend. That way, your backups can run; plus, Critical and Security updates (including virus definition updates) usually run during the night.