Backups and Data Management

Data, Data, Data

Timely backups guard against data loss. The more data to be backed up, the longer some types of backups will take. Some backup types take longer to restore than others. Types of backups should be considered based on available backup drive space and how quickly backups may need restored.

There are several backup options available, from the cloud to external drives that replicate your storage. OS’s come with basic backup apps, and there are many others. Good backup strategies include system level backups that include repair boot disk and file level backups.

Failure notification triggers are a good way to prevent data loss. When known, the backup job can reviewed and adjustments made.

Its worthwhile to have a professional review backup strategies. We can verify backups have occured, and test that the data is restorable and also look out for other system level conflicts that may prevent backups from running or cause them to fail.

Data management is often a task set aside for slow times. Drives fill up over time and it seems an easier path to add an external drive and just keep adding to the pile. Although storage is inexpensive, drives and storage should systems fail.

Here are some good tips to manage data efficiently.

  1. Define a storage area for your files.  Too often people drag files to their desktops or drop in a folder without properly identifying the contents. They build up over time and clutter your desktop. Use shortcuts on your desktop to access the data from a proper storage location for easy access. Accidental drag and drops create unnecessary duplicate files that over time, become a nightmare to weed through. This is normally noticed when you perform a search and the document show up in a few places.
  2. Deal with existing data. Start with paper & pencil, categorize the data you have by logical folder structures that are meaningful to your business and others who may also access the data. Solicit input by others who will access the shared file system.
  3. Assign a level of importance to data. Classify your data by where it fits in with your business activities. Identify data that is current and actively used daily, weekly, monthly versus what is important to have available for easy access, versus what is historic, items that you want to archive for reference, this is data that is infrequently accessed and finally, data that can simply be deleted.
  4. Use searches and inexpensive file utilities.  File searches can be filtered by date stamps, like Date Created, or date last accessed. There are some great file utilities that make short work of managing duplicates and moving files about based on criteria.
  5. Creating time frame based rules may work well to help manage your data.   Example rules may be:  Finished job files will remain on a local drive for 6 months, after that the folders can be moved to near-line storage (like a network drive) that can still be accessed with ease, after 1.5 yrs, its archived to CD or DVD.

Utilizing CD-R & DVD-R is an effective and inexpensive option for long term data archive storage.

Non ReWritable media like CD-R and DVD-R are rated for 100-200 years of shelf life with proper storage which is generally defined as protected from sunlight, temps in the 70s and 50% humidity or less housed in a protective case. The reality in business is that with a little use here and there minor wear and tear occurs. 20 to 30 yrs is a likely life span for media. Many recall how we left cd’s in our cars and were surprised that took such abuse but were equally disappointed at some point after a few years, they became so damaged, they wuold not play. Eventually degraded to the loss point, due to extremes in temperature, sunlight and scratches.

Users should handle business storage cd’s gently and return the media back to its case and storage location promptly.

Digital Photos can be resource hogs. Depending on the settings of your camera, you may be storing poster sized images. Consider image software that can batch resize older unused photos. Depending on your business, these too can be candidates for offline storage, like a dvd.

In the end, its well worth investing an hour or two thinking about your data and define some rules about how to keep it organized and protected. Backups are the “defacto” insurance policy against loss. Just like with insurance, its best to implement a backup strategy that will provide you the best coverage for the cost, and be able to restore your business data back to a pre-loss state in a time frame that doesn’t significantly impact your daily operations.

 

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