Which Media to Choose for Data Backup?

By: James Walsh


As per Murphy's Law, if something has to go wrong, it will, and that, too, at the most inopportune moment. If we were to know when this unfortunate moment would arrive, we could all sit back and relax with our cups of coffee and challenge the next psychic that came our way.

Sadly, the moment of triumph has not arrived in this technological age yet. We never know when the disaster would strike and the only way to insure ourselves from the misfortune is to constantly keep backing up our data. Backup systems provide immediate relief to your business and ensure its continuity in times of crisis. Most companies rely on the IT professionals to retrieve their data when the data is lost. The companies should avoid this typical error. Adequate training should be provided to the employees to learn not only the backup procedures, but also the methods of retrieval. Employees will always learn better from their own mistakes. Your valuable data can be very vulnerable to spyware and viruses. These can creep into the company's system through any software you might download. Once the virus becomes active, it can create havoc inside the data system and you could either lose your data or end up with data that is full of errors. Only an effective backup system along with reliable virus detection software can help you recover your data in such circumstances. Now that we realise the importance of backup systems, how does one go about selecting an appropriate backup media? How does a consumer choose amongst the plethora of options available? We have some guidelines you can use that will help you in your selection.

Guidelines for Selecting the Optimal Data Backup Media

Since the users of data backup media have different needs, the choice of backup media for these users will differ accordingly. The backup media market has many options to choose from and we will evaluate the effectiveness of each option with respect to the consumer market.

  • CDs, DVDs, Pen Drives: This option is most suitable for home and home office users. CDs can hold approximately 800 MB of data whereas DVDs can hold up to 5 GB. DVDs and CDs are somehow losing their charm because of the time that is required to back up the data using these options. Storage space required for a large number of CDs/DVDs could be considerable and hence the task of backing up could become cumbersome. Pen drives with good storage capacity are a good option for home and home office users. It is portable, data storage is fast, and its storage is easy. The disadvantage of a pen drive is that it will not be able to back up your entire system due to the compact nature of its size. Analysing these three options from a cost perspective, CDs and DVDs are much cheaper alternatives than pen drives if you already have a CD or DVD burner installed on your computer.

  • Portable Hard Disk: Opting for a portable hard disk is a very good option for home and home office users, and the companies. The hard drives do not cost a lot these days and the storage capacity is an impressive 120 GB. Since the hard drives are portable, you can use it at your office location or an external location. Portable hard disks are gaining a lot of popularity because of their ease of use and reliability.

  • Tape Drives: These can be used by larger companies as well as home and home office users. The main advantage of a tape drive is that it is able to store several GB of data. However, tape drives are an expensive alternative as compared to DVDs considering that you will have to keep purchasing costly tape cartridges. Tape backup is getting extremely unpopular in today's business world where time is of essence. One of the major reasons for this unpopularity is the fact that it takes a lot of time to retrieve the data from a tape drive. In addition, the performance of a tape backup has generally not recorded 100% data retrieval, which might be due to the fragile nature of its components. It is also very hard to back up remote users data using this technology and, worst still, you may still have errors in your data when the data is restored. The tape technology can still be used for long term archival provided it is in stored in a proper storage system. Disk storage would be a better option than tape if your business objective of a backup option were "back on track in no time". A tape stores the data in a linear manner. Therefore, you will have to start looking for the data from the beginning to actually find what you're looking for. However, a disk stores the data in a mirror-like manner, reflects every aspect of your system instantly and is, therefore, a faster data retrieval method.


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