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Why you should backup your files

by Roberto Grassi ( GRSoftware President/CEO )

Back up, Why?

Many people underestimate the value of the data contained on their computers, believing the most valuable part is its hardware. Consider for a moment the loss of revenue due to reentering a year's worth of data, the inability to track and bill outgoing services or products, or the inability to access your client database or financial records. Most companies do not adequately plan for a disaster. In the event of a disaster, time and energy is spent planning for full recovery instead of  implementing the recovery.

It is a good idea, I think, to save your work every half-hour or so when using a PC. The computer might crash, and your work is not safe until it is on your hard disk. Well, hard disks can crash too - not so often, but it does happen - and losing hundreds of megabytes of data can be totally traumatic. So, you must back up your hard disk regularly - but how many of us bother?

Although backups are time consuming, difficult and tedious, they are necessary evils with today's technology. Because today's personal computers are so reliable, you may be lulled into a false sense of security. Make no mistake -- hard drives crash, viruses can infect your system and destroy your data, human error can wreak havoc on your business, and a thief can simply steal your computer and its data goes with it!

Backup and archiving

One of the hard facts of computing life is that computers experience random errors. These errors don't happen very often, which leads to complacency amongst users. You need a good scare or disaster every so often to keep you on your toes. Only then do you appreciate the importance of backing up.

One of the hard facts of life is that computers are desirable and get nicked. If your computer goes then so does the information on it. You can spend a lot of money on security and insurance but such measures not going to bring your data back if the worst happens. What price can you put on your thesis?

Both these hard facts can be addressed inexpensively by following the guidelines offered below.

Backup vs. archiving

It's important to understand the difference between backup and archiving. A backup preserves a snapshot of your hard disk or network volume (or selected folders on them). It is an insurance policy. It means that if you lose the working copy of an important file then you can at least go back to the version preserved in the backup. Clearly the frequency of the backup will determine how useful the backup copy is; backing up on a weekly basis is of little use if you are frantically churning out a chapter a day of your thesis.

An archive preserves files that you no longer need on a short-term basis. By putting them in an archive you can then liberate space on your hard disk (or network volume) but you can always extract them from the archive if the need arises. An archive needs careful management.

Backup on floppy disk

Floppy disks are cheap, accessible, don't offer much storage and are rather unreliable if used as a working medium. For the backup of a few files that are evolving rapidly they are ideal - but don't work directly on them (use your hard disk or network volume instead). They are best not used for archival purposes - their longevity is suspect.

Backup on file server

The file server is a collection of hard disks made available over the network. Hard disks are generally reliable. Backing up files on to the file server is sound practice. Working directly on files on the server is not as it tends to be slow and there is no recourse if you save version N+1 of a file on top of version N. This is also true when working on a local hard disk; however, if you have previously backed up the file to the file server then at least you can return to version N-M, where M is normally small. The file server is itself backed up on a weekly basis. Using the file server for archival purposes is sound if expensive; using a magneto-optical disk is more cost-effective.

Backup on magneto-optical disks, Zip and Jaz cartridges

Magneto-optical disks could be considered as giant floppy disks. ONE magneto-optical disk gives about the storage of ONE HUNDRED floppy disks. They are similar in physical size and offer similar data transfer rates but they are much more reliable. At a low cost per disk they provide the best solution for archiving purposes. Like floppy disks they must be formatted before use but they are sold already formatted.

Backup on external USB hard disks

Today PC all have one or more USB interfaces. This has started a new era. Now you can buy a cheaper hard disk drive inside an external box and connect it to an USB interface. This hard drive is quick and reliable and can save you a lot of time. As these disks are now cheaper than ever you can replace your internal drive with a bigger external one and use your old drive as an external backup storage. This also let you optimize the costs.

Unattended network backup

An unattended network backup service must be offered to all academic, technical and secretarial staff. You need a professional backup program that can automatically schedule the backup in the background without any user intervention. Local hard disks can be backed up on a weekly basis - all the user has to do is to remember to leave his or her computer switched on over a particular evening each week. This is NOT an archive service. The backup destination disks are cycled on a three-week basis - version N+3 COMPLETELY replaces version N. If a disaster strikes (hard disk failure, finger trouble, etc.) then at least you can go back to an image of your hard disk from the week before.

The professional back up solution

GRSoftware announces the availability of a new professional backup software product -- GRBackPro (TM) -- that backs up and restores large servers faster and more reliably than any other utility of its type. Time savings for system administrators and network managers are impressive.

Observes GRSoftware President Roberto Grassi: "While the amount of data being connected to workstations and file servers is steadily increasing, the amount of time when systems are available for backup is decreasing. GRBackPro solves this problem by providing a flexible backup and restore solution that sends data to any drives faster than any other backup utility. A further virtue of GRBackPro is that it allows more productive use of servers. That's because backups require less time and fewer system resources, so there's less impact on other applications running on the host."


This page has been translated into Swedish language by Eric Karlsson.


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