Choosing your Data Backup Strategy

By: Roland Jefferson

The importance of having a backup copy of important computer files is obvious, since any hard drive can become the victim of a disaster at a moment's notice. While the type of disaster is unforeseeable, the way to recover from it is quite predictable. Backing up should be part of the computing process in the maintenance category. The first step in this process is to develop your data backup strategy. The strategy comes from a balance between the importance of your computer files and the amount of space it will require. Once those factors are determined, add in how often a backup is required and whether it should be of chosen files, changes or copies of entire file systems.

Who, What, When, Where, How

When starting to plan your data backup strategy, begin by thinking about the situation that will result from a computer disaster. What will you need to rebuild your files? What files and systems will need to be rebuilt? How quickly will you need to be back on your feet? Will a loss of information affect other people? Can some of your files be kept in hard copy without harm? The answers to these questions will depend on whether you are making technical decisions for a mid-sized company, a home computer network supporting a small business and a college student, or a single home computer used for keeping the family budget and general paperwork.

Sensitive data that is important to your daily functioning and changes often should be backed up daily in a safe way that will be easy to reconstruct. If this data is large in size, as it would be if kept in a relational database, then compression is a possibility. Your data backup strategy has to take this into consideration. If your data includes credit card or social security information about a number of your employees or customers, then security is important.

It is simple to make daily copies of important files, but your data backup strategy has to take into consideration the storage of those sensitive files. The recovery aspect of your data backup strategy has to consider whether and how to contact those whose information has been compromised. That means that if the computer disaster is a hacking incident, the recovery is different than if the problem had been a fire. When planning your data backup strategy, remember to concentrate on the individual needs of your data and not just the technical bells and whistles.

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