Knowing how to backup your data is crucial.
When hardware failure or theft occurs, having a good backup of your data can mean the difference between business continuity and loss of revenue. Electronic components fail, and with the prevalence of today’s vicious malware – Cryptowall comes to mind – having good backups is imperative. There are many types and methods of backing up. Each will usually require it’s own software. There are built-in backup applications in Windows, but 3rd party developers make some that’s often better. Let’s look at some common backup methods:
- External hard drive. USB hard drives are very cheap and can hold vast quantities of information. This method is cheap, fast, and easy. It is not usually fully automatic, as user intervention is required to manage the drive
- Tape/DVD. This method has fallen out of favor recently, for the most part. Tapes are expensive and require special hardware. In the past several years I’ve only seen very large enterprise shops use tapes. And these consisted of robotic arms in vast tape libraries which swapped tapes automatically.
- Offsite backup. There are many companies offering offsite backups these days. It is a good method of getting data off-premises for complete security. One consideration to this method is initial seeding time. Large volumes of data require time to initially upload to the server. Once a backup is completed, subsequent backups use and rsync or delta-type backup to only send changed bits of information during subsequent backups. Carbonite, iDrive, and even local providers can offer this method.
- Backup to a network share. This is a good way to get data off-box, but beware. The devious Cryptowall virus encrypts the local machine, then searches out network shares to encrypt. This backup would NOT protect from that malware.
Common Windows file locations
The Microsoft Windows operating system uses a hierarchy to store common files. Below are some of the most common that should be considered when backing up workstations or home PCs
- My Documents: C:\Users\%userprofile%\My Documents
- Favories (IE): C:\Users\%userprofile%\Favorites
- My Music: C:\Users\%userprofile%\My Music
- My Pictures: C:\Users\%userprofile%\My Pictures
Last words of advice on backups
Your software vendor will have detailed instructions on how and what to backup. Remember, backups are different from disaster recovery methods. Databases will sometimes need to be taken offline to backup, or will have special backup methods. Normally you can’t just copy the folder with the database in it to save the data. ALWAYS TEST YOUR BACKUPS!!! Usually the backup is tested when it’s needed, and too many times that’s when it’s too late.