I see I have accumulated about 40 of these backup reminders so far. I’ve been sending them for about a year now, and I have almost enough to start automating the delivery, though I don’t plan to stop including new material where I find it.
The truth is, though, that backups are not sexy, and everyone hopes never to have to use them. Setting up a backup-restore system costs money, having to restore from a backup costs time, and there are what seem an endless number of possible failure points along the way.
This week I read a white paper by LiveVault online backup and recovery service about “Why Backup Is Not Enough.” Ultimately, of course, it’s an ad for LiveVault’s own service and for Managed Service Providers in general, and promises to automate backups, updating them every time any file is changed, store them in its secure facilities, and get you CDs or Network Attached Storage to restore your systems in the event of total failure.
Which is all well and good, but (as a contact at San Bruno ISP and technology solutions company A-Street pointed out) relies on a consistently high upload speed, which essentially means a T-1 connection. Home office users, even with cable or DSL connections, have much slower upload than download speeds, and backing up your entire hard drive over the internet is going to be painfully slow. He described A-Street’s own preferred solution, a networked Linux box installed at the client’s office and set up to use backupPC at night. (When he gives me more details, I’ll pass them on.) But personally, I’m not in a position to install any kind of dual-power-supply RAID storage. Where would I put it? And it would be as vulnerable to fire, flood, earthquake, and theft as the backup system I’m using now.
His comment on the backup system I’m using now is that the problem with drive images such as those created by Norton Ghost is that the system you’ve backed up might already have been infected by a virus, spyware, adware, or other problem-causer, so what you restore is destined to crash soon or will need serious cleanup.
The foolproof, no-brainer backup system which can get you up and running on any hardware is, as far as I can tell, the Holy Grail of backups. It goes back to that business of backups not being sexy. Despite the fact that being without backups can mean lost time, money, and business, most R&D seems to go into special effects, graphics, video editing, and the like.
In my opinion, almost any backup is better than no backup, and the more backups you have, the better off you are. Some on-site, some off site, some on rewritable media, some on permanent media—and check them out before you have to actually rely on them.
Back up your data today.
And if you find that Holy Grail, let me know!