Saturday, March 30, 2013

Backups, Who Needs Them!

Do you do backups of your data, of your photographs?  Do you do on-site or off-site backups or both?

Consider this: You have 10 years worth of +Quicken data for your home or business.  In addition, you have 25 years worth of family photos that you paid hundreds of dollars to digitize.  Your house gets hit by a tornado, lightning or even a fire destroying everything and you have no backups.  How do you get your data back?  You don't if you are not doing backups.  This loss is going to potentially cost money and the emotional lose is there as well.

Tomorrow March 31, 2013, is World Backup Day, http://www.worldbackupday.com/.  It is a reminder to look at what you are doing or not doing for backups.  Backups should be a multi-tiered approach a combination of on-site backups and off-site backups.  The backup plan should include a plan for daily, to weekly and even monthly backups along with regular testing of a recovery.  Backups without the ability to recover your data is only half the solution.

On-site backups include using a Network Access Storage (NAS) something like +Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS Storage Array filled with disk or even a Drobo 5D 5-Bay Storage Array, Thunderbolt/USB 3.0.  You may consider in the long-term to get two of these devices and use one for off-site storage and swap the devices out every couple of weeks.

Currently, my plan includes getting one of the Drobo NAS devices filled to the brim along with the 3 TB USB backup device and the 1 TB USB backup device I am currently using.  The plan includes backing up to each and then ultimately to the Drobo.

One solution for off-site backups include the cloud.  To me the cloud was a very scary place but the technology and bandwidth considerations have improved a great deal.  Using +Comcast.com, you would originally have a 205 GB limit per month, but last year Comcast took that limitation away.  The part was the technology issue.  How to get a full initial backup done in a reasonable amount of time.  The backups needed in my office took up 650 GB and grows about 2 GB to 20 GB after each photo shoot along with all the other data within the office.

Two solutions possible solutions, +Carbonite and +CrashPlan.  Carbonite minimizes the use of bandwidth, is secure and has several reasonable options for one, two or more computers. Carbonite does not offer a SEEDing service at the time I tested it.  My testing lasted about 9 months and in that time I could not get a full initial backup completed especially with the weekly growth I was experiencing.

CrashPlan has multiple options for the home or business, is secure, options for one, two or more computers plus the ability to backup a friends computer or backup to a friends computer. CrashPlan even offers a SEEDing solution for a cost. CrashPlan backs up the most current files first then goes through to the older files.  CrashPlan did not seem to care about bandwidth usage other then what the ISP might limit.

I ended up on February 15, 2013, moving from Carbonite to CrashPlan.  The solution I select was the CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited Plan.  I did get a significant discount for moving from Carbonite to CrashPlan for the first year but the yearly rate was even better than Carbonite's.  I was concerned about how long my initial full backup would take since I was not planning on using the SEEDing solution.  Based on information from the CrashPlan site and my available bandwidth via Comcast, I was pretty sure the backup would take about a month.  I am please to say it took a month to the day.

Each month, I select a directory and do a test recovery to validate I can get the data back to my machine.  CrashPlan has some great FAQs about switching machines if you get a new or if the worse case happens and you lose your entire machine how do you get all your data back.  I recommend before doing any kind of recovery you read the FAQs and if you are uncertain about how to proceed reach out to CrashPlan support.

Now, backups occur daily or right after a photo shoot to my local devices and an on-going backup everyday to CrashPlan.  I still need a new NAS solution to buy as my old NAS device has given up the ghost.

Your backup plan should consider both multiple on-site backup solutions and an off-site solution.  For off-site it is as simple as taking a backup device to the office or putting one in a safety deposit box or backing up to the cloud.  If you have no plan in place, create a plan, start small and grow your plan to fit your needs.

One concern I have with the cloud is what happens if the service I use goes out of business?  This is a concern for any cloud service.  Ensure you have built into your plan a solution in event this scenario happens.

If you do not have a backup plan or you are not doing backups, consider getting started today and worse case start tomorrow.  Realize everyday you put of doing any kind of backups off, you risk of losing data goes up.

If you have any comments or ideas, please comment.