12 Ways to backup your data

August 8, 2007


Everyone knows backing up your documents and files is something we should do on a regular basis, but quite often this task gets pushed to the bottom of the todo list. You might already have a system in place but would it fail if your office was in a fire? When was the last time you checked your backup’s actually work?

Over the coming weeks I will cover a range of topics on backup solutions to make your life easier. This weeks post is about the various types of backup solutions currently available. 

Still not convinced you need to read this post? Check out the story behind the picture above!

  1. Online
    Online backup is quickly becoming the most popular form of backup for individuals and small businesses. A backup program constantly monitors your document and files. Any changes to these files are copied, compressed, encrypted and then uploaded to the backup solution provider via your internet connection. 
    Example : http://www.jungledisk.com/
  2. Local and Online
    One of the draw backs to online backup is what happens when you need to recovery all your data quickly. Even with 8MB broadband connection it can take well over an hour to download one gigabyte of data. Some companies provide you with a small backup machine that takes a local backup and then uploads. If your data is lost you can restore it from the backup box. If your server and the backup box are destroyed the service provider will send an engineer on site with a replacement box with a copy of your data that was last updated.
    Example : http://www.datafort.co.uk/datafort_deluxe.asp
  3. Backup Media

    Tape technology has been around for over 50 years and is still widest used form of backup for businesses. Although the initial outlay can be expensive, tape drives still offers the quickest and cheapest way to backup large amounts of data. Currently the largest capacity tape is around 800 GB, but if you need something bigger, a tape library system can combine a series of tapes to provide a massive 80TB (80,000 GB’s) of data. Tape backup solution also provides an easy and cheap way to archive large amounts data for legal requirements that many businesses face. A typical tape solution will start from £300 ($600) and with tapes cost anything from £5 ($10) upwards depending on the capacity. 

    CD/DVD media are generally quicker and cheaper than tape technology. Although the average business will backup well over 8.5 GB capacity of DVD media can currently handle. Yeah you can span data over multiple CD/DVD’s but as I will mention next week, Keep it simple. You might want to consider DVD media for monthly archiving for a companies that utilise an online backup system.

    HD-DVD and Blu-Ray media is another option that offers up to 50 GB of storage, but until the technology matures I wouldn’t consider this viable backup solution just yet.
    http://www.blu-ray.com/ | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_DVD

  4. Peer to Peer, online backup 
    Another online backup solution is Peer to Peer or P2P technology. Your data is encrypted, compressed, split into many bits and then uploaded to multiple locations all over the world. You can backup as much data as you’d like, but for every megabyte you want to save you need to provide another ten megabytes of space on your local PC for other people’s backups. In principle your data is backed up ten times!
    Academic Paper : http://www.mit.edu/~cbatten/work/pstore-tr02.pdf
  5. Peer to Peer, local backup
    Instead of your data being distributed all over the internet the same concept can be applied by using spare hard drive space available on your desktop machines within your business network. 
    Example : http://www.peersoftware.com
  6. Backup Buddies 
    Similar concept to P2P backup, but instead of backing up to multiple anonymous locations, you and a friend backup each others data over the internet. Again your data is secured through encryption, compressed and transferred via your broadband connection. You can have more than one backup destination which can be a local PC, another PC over the internet or you can use solution providers servers.
    Example : http://crashplan.com/
  7. Portable Storage 
    USB hard drives and keys are one of the most common forms of backup for individuals and small businesses. Most operating systems come with some type of backup software that allows you to automate the process.
  8. Internal Hard Disk
    Exactly the same as the portable storage but the hard drive is inside the computer. Such a solution can often be cheaper, offer greater speeds and can configured for disk mirroring (RAID technology).
  9. Network Attached Disk (NAS)
    NAS drive are very similar to your USB drive with the added advantage that they don’t require USB connection to your machine. Instead, you connect them to your network and set them up as a mapped network drive on your machine. All users of the network (Linux, Mac, Windows) can place data on this storage space. This type of storage offers small businesses an excellent backup solution. Prices start from as little £100 ($200) for 200GB capacity NAS drive.
  10. Storage Area Network (SAN)
    Similar system to to NAS drives aimed at backup Terabytes (1000’s GB) of data for large enterprises.
  11. Shadow Copy
    Some operating systems such as Windows Vista allow you to enable a feature called Shadow Copying. The system takes snapshots of your files when changes are made to them. This allows you can roll back to pervious version of a documents and files without the need to implement the recovery process from your backup solution. This should be in addition to your backup solution, not the backup solution!
  12. Offline Synchronisation
    The operating system takes a complete copy of all the files available on your shared network drive. When your away from the office or your file server is unavailable you can continue to working on your documents and files. When your network drive becomes available again your files are synchronise back to the file server. Again like the Shadow Copying this should be in addition to your backup solution.


Related posts:

  1. 20 Pointers for planning your backup strategy
  2. 21 Ways to Bullet Proof your IT infrastructure
  3. Backup Tools – Mirror Backups and Microsoft SyncToy
  4. Offline Files and Folders, the 2 GB limit!
  5. How to send sensitive data securely

Author: Support @ 8:00 am


  1. For my penny worth Netbax by Attix5 is a good solid local, and local/online backup solution with a data mirroring facility, they are at http://www.netbax.com/ and my Blog post on the product is at http://theitmanagersjournal.blogspot.com/2007/04/online-backup.html. Also for NAS, a good HP Storage Server based on a DL380 and MSA30/20 drive array is a solid foundation to build on.

    An important point to mention is the frequency and reliability of backups. They need to be regular and regularly checked, don’t just assume that the automated backup has started, or that you’ve run a successful manual backup. Check the backup has actually run and check the data on the media. When it comes to backup – never assume anything!


    Comment by Jason Slater — August 8, 2007 @ 9:18 am

  2. Hi there:

    Nice posting!

    One way of mitigating a risk of disaster is to have an online backup service. I have been reading about the online backup and storage industry for a while now. It is becoming a commonly accepted technology these days.

    For online backup news, information and articles, there is an excellent website:


    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

    It also features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed.


    Comment by Jenny — August 8, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  3. wow! that was quite a picture of a PC.

    Unfortunately, I am not that tech savvy. I would just use my 4GB flash drive to back up all my files.

    Comment by thet — August 10, 2007 @ 1:10 am

  4. Jason
    As always thank you for your detailed and informative comments.

    Backup Review looks like a good resoure

    I was after a dramtic picture to get my point across about backup offsite.

    Comment by Edinburgh Computer Support — August 10, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  5. Oh Thet, make sure it’s a branded USB Key! I’ve been through a couple!

    Comment by Edinburgh Computer Support — August 10, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  6. I have a Kingston 4GB flash drive..I am not sure if it’s a good brand though. I just picked up one in an electronic store…LOL

    Comment by thet — August 10, 2007 @ 7:29 pm

  7. Flash drive is getting pretty popular now a days. Everyone I know has one except myself. 😛 I personally zip my important, but nothing with my personal info, files to online backup sites. I also make backups to a blank dvd.

    Comment by andy — August 10, 2007 @ 10:33 pm

  8. I don’t think people realize how important it is to back up their computers. Awesome post. You never know when your computer is going to kill over!!!

    Comment by Christina — August 13, 2007 @ 5:08 am

  9. Thet – Kingston are a good make

    Andy – I keep losing mine, or should I say I lend them out and never see them again!

    Christina – I sometimes think businesses need a little fright just to make them realise they aren’t wasting money on backup solutions.

    Comment by Jamie — August 15, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  10. Flash drives will on occasion “flash” on entry or exit (even if you remove “safely”. Each time this happens there is a high risk of the device being completely erased.

    John O’Neill is pro with backupanytime.com

    Comment by John ONeill — January 16, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  11. John – I’m pretty bad myself for just pulling memory sticks straight out.


    Comment by Jamie — January 17, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  12. Hey John, nice site!
    The seo work is excellent too. I think I could help you in the UK. http://www.backupanytime.com is currently on the second page of google.co.uk for a considerable number of relevant search terms and page 1 for a small number. Given its current position and the quality of the site, I reckon the site is good enough for me to put it on page 1 for at leat 10 relevant search terms
    and in the top three for “online backup”. Let me know here if you are interested. I posted a message on your site but someone came back wanting to help me with online backup… (:

    Comment by Andrew — April 15, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  13. Sorry Andrew, I’m little confused to what you are after?


    Comment by Jamie — April 18, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

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