Time to Backup Your Data!

Lizardwebs has looked into the online backup concept several times and never come up with the “be all, end all” of online backups.  Until a few days ago.

I’ve spent large amounts of time comparing plans, features and costs – and nothing seemed to actually be what I considered a real bargain. At least not until I got looking strongly at Carbonite online backup.  Some seemed to be a bit more expensive than I would like. Some seemed to have limitations that didn’t quite fit right for my clients. Others required purchases of huge amounts of online backup storage – to the point where I would need to rush out and sign up about 50 of my clients in the first day to actually make it even economically feasible. I guess if I had 50 clients that were using online backup already, that might be a possibility, but I digress.

Hold it – what is this whole “backup” thing – and why? All of my clients know that I preach, “Backup, backup, backup and then backup more until it hurts”.  Why? VERY simple. Those hard drives – that you use to save all of your picture memories, all those songs that you downloaded at 99 cents a pop, business emails,  the tax returns you probably have stashed on your computer, the financial info if you use your computer for business – yup, THOSE hard drives – they’re going to fail.  It’s not a question of “IF” they’re going to fail, it’s a question of “WHEN” they fail. So for that reason, I’m a supporter of getting anything that you really find irreplaceable on at LEAST one more location in your systems.

Taking that a step further: How about if something even more catastrophic happens – like a good old fashioned North Carolina hurricane? Well, we’ll get to that. If all your backups are local, and a hurricane or some other calamity is too, well your data will be ALL lost locally.

Let’s start simply – if you have more than one computer, and a lot of people do, it’s NOT a bad idea to do critical data backups from one machine to another. That way if you lose one, you still have the other – and hopefully recent copies of the data from the first. That’s one way.

Some people burn their data to CD or DVD. Many of the CD/DVD burning package include some sort of utility for just this purpose. That is a great way to store stuff – takes more effort than most people are willing to give though, but it is effective. You can also store your data media off-site. Take a copy over to your best friend’s house for safekeeping, or to a bank storage box, etc.

Another way is to purchase an external hard drive. Prices are very low these days. You can find a 1 Terabyte drive for just over $100 if you keep your eyes open.  With many of these drives, there is already some sort of backup program installed on them that will help you to backup your files. If you can spend the money, this is probably the most efficient way – even for people with just a single computer. Hook up that external and backup weekly – or more depending on the nature of your data.

If you understand the whole idea of networks, then the next step up for the average user is a Network Attached Storage unit, or NAS. A NAS is usually nothing but a small box that attaches directly to your network router (the thing your DSL or Cable modems feed into) and will allow users to stash files on it. They can be setup in a number of ways. You can have standalone backup software (Cobian Backup is one of my favorites – and it’s free) do your backup for you; you can manually copy all your important files across; or some NAS file servers have built in software that will allow you to do backups.

What does Lizardwebs do? You have to figure that if there’s “the bomb” type setup, it’s going to be here. Many of my files duplicate on my workstation whenever I work with them. I was just working on a web page – this is the 60th copy of that particular file. Whenever I save, it saves not only to either my main or web server drive, but also to another drive. If I lose my main drive, I should have copies on my second computer drive. That is perfect for the “Ooops didn’t mean to change that” or accidental deletions. On a nightly basis, it backs up to an HP MediaSmart Server with that included software. On the first of every month, my computer backs up everything to another NAS via Vista Backup.

Does this take a lot of space? Undoubtedly, yes. But, the pain of losing all my information, and the time it would take to recreate the years of data that I have would be unbearable. Losing all my photos, graphic work, web sites, financials, CONTACTS, documents, company documents, important emails, etc.  Is that worth a few hundred extra dollars to know that I can recover it in a matter of minutes? Also undoubtedly, yes. And I can recover things immediately should something happen – that can also be important.

So with all that backing up going on, why online too? All that backup is great. But it’s all right here. If you have your data on just one location when that inevitable hard drive failure hits, it’s gone. If you have all the data AND all the backups in one place (like an office), well, no matter how many backups I have, if something catastrophic happens locally and wipes out my office, not a single one of those backups is going to do me any good.  I’ll already have a ton of issues replacing all my hardware. But the data? It would be gone forever.

Online backups give you complete security and peace of mind. If something catastrophic happens locally, all you need to do is restore data from your online source. Doesn’t matter if it’s new hardware or old hardware, your data is STILL secure and available to you.

So is it worth about 50/year? UNDOUBTEDLY YES!

Contact Lizardwebs for more information on how we can get you setup with Carbonite to start protecting YOUR data today!

Author: Eric Erickson

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