Emmanuel Ebe Written by Emmanuel Ebe · 2 min read >

After many years of taking beautiful photographs and archiving those pictures in that expensive and supposedly rugged external hard drive, hoping to preserve them for your great-grandchildren. One day, you plug the drive into your computer to reminisce on the past. What is that clicking sound? A popup appears on your screen saying, “the plugged USB device is not supported”. Let’s take another example. You as an IT manager walk into your data centre and you see your servers smoking. Perhaps they were fried by a power surge. Thank goodness, you have a backup. But wait a minute, the backup and storage server are on the same rack in the same data centre. I guess you should just resign at once. These are familiar but unfortunate incidents that occur regarding our data backup.

If you appreciate how valuable data is, you will plan and invest in storage and backup of your data. I said storage and backup because oftentimes, people misunderstand both or think they are the same thing. Storage with regards to data is a repository where data is stored. Whereas backup is a copy of the data in a repository for archive and recovery purposes. Data stored in a repository most times are stored in its raw form. While backed up data are compressed, usually to reduce the size and the space it occupies. They are also encrypted for security, and in a file format that will make them not easily retrievable if it gets to the wrong hands.

There is a best practice for backup and protection of data, it is called the 3 2 1 rule. It simply means that when you are backing up your data you will have 3 copies of the data in at least 2 different media, and then 1 of the media must be offsite.  A lot of enterprises use tapes as a medium for their backup. They will have each of their completed backup jobs on 3 tapes and then take the tape to e remote site. Some have the tapes stored in a safe in their CFO or CTO’s residence. A company once had this setup, on the day they had an incident, yes, they have 3 copies of their data all in a tape drive and they had one in a remote site. Unfortunately, the tape storage robot or the machine that manages the tape got damaged. They have their backups, but they could not retrieve their data immediately.

There are different ways to achieve this backup model. You can have your backups in 1 tape drive and 2 external hard drives, then have one of the external drives stored in a secured remote location. Nowadays, technology has made the backup process so easy and organizations or even individuals can invest to ensure the security and availability of their data. With the proliferation of Network-attached storage (NAS), Storage Area Networks (SAN) and cloud services such as Amazon Web Service (AWS), Azure Cloud, Google Cloud and the rest, to achieve the 3 2 1 backup model is simplified with high redundancy and availability. You can have your backup jobs in a tape drive, a NAS and in the cloud, where the cloud serves as the remote location.

Even as an individual, subscribe to a cloud storage service, and move a copy of the data you have in your removable storage device to the cloud storage. At least you have achieved 2 and 1 of the backup rules. When we have very important information, storing the data in a single repository or a storage device is not sufficient for data protection. A little investing in additional backup storage options can save us a lot.


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