Backup Strategies

Published on June 23, 2009

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about backup strategies for my data. I’m bad about not backing things up on a regular basis, and I’m hoping to change that. There are a number of routes one can take, and I’ve been looking at several.

The easiest solution is to backup data onto removable media (CD, DVD, or an external hard drive). This method is cheapest, but it also has some serious drawbacks. CDs and DVDs have relatively small data footprints, which means you have to use many discs to backup sizable data stores. Writable discs also don’t last forever. The most serious flaw with this strategy, however, is that the backups are not off site. If someone breaks in and steals my computer, they are almost certain to also take the external hard drive sitting next to it. The same can be said for a fire; if the machine burns, so does the hard drive.

A number of online services are available for doing data backup. Carbonite and Mozy are two of the bigger ones I’ve heard about. These services give you off site backups, but they too have drawbacks. Often, these services have software that runs all the time on your machine, incrementally backing up as you go (which may be something you don’t want). In some cases, you also have limited control over exactly what gets backed up. The services cost money, and you’re giving your data to a third party. And, with lousy broadband in the US, initial upload times for large data can be painfully slow.

What does everyone here do to backup their data? Can anyone recommend a service or strategy that works well for them?

One Comment

billy

I’ve been using 32GB USB flash drives to back up critical files since last year, and
Microsoft SyncToy 2.0 is a handy tool to synchronize changes.

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