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Whether you have one computer or many you need to “back up”

What is “backup?”

Computers are vulnerable machines. They don’t know the good guys from the bad guys. In the wrong hands they will reveal all your secrets. And, it doesn’t take much for them to totally forget everything you’ve ever told them. Everything they know sits on the hard drive.

Hard drives are mechanical pieces of equipment, with delicate moving parts, that store billions of bits of code on a platter. The moving parts and the platter eventually wear out. More expensive Solid State Drives (SSDs) have no moving parts but depend on a capacitor and power supply which can malfunction or fail.

Some professionals recommend replacing hard drives every 3–5 years.

The good news is, when your hard drive fails, (and just like humans, they will) you can have a perfect clone of all your data standing by, ready to jump in. If you have a TRUE backup.

“Backup” is the process of duplicating and storing computer data in such a way that it can be recovered quickly, easily, and completely…just the way it was when it was lost or damaged.

Why is it important to backup data?

Make no mistake, you will face data loss sooner or later. Backing up all your data is not only important, it is essential. Everyday your data is at risk of being damaged, compromised, stolen, or lost. It might be something as simple as unintentionally overwriting or deleting valuable data. You might drop your laptop on the pavement. Someone three miles away might damage the power grid and zap your computer.

A bolt of lightning might send shockwaves through the power lines right to your hard drive (power surges happen all the time).

Who knows, a car might suddenly come crashing through a wall and crush your server. If you think that can never happen, ask us for a copy of the case study about that exact disaster and how we responded.

But here’s the most likely scenario…

One day your hard drive will just die…just stop working. About 20% fail in the first four years. After that the death rate increases quickly. Sometimes data can be recovered. Sometimes it can’t.

Whether it’s family photos on your home computer or the financial records that your business depends on…we all have data we don’t ever want to risk losing. So, backing up your data NOW is very, very important. HOW you backup is just as important.

What are the common methods used for backup?

A savvy computer tech can tell you all about the various repository models, including unstructured, full, incremental, differential, reverse delta, continuous data, mirror image, version backup, synchronized backup, etc. Your data can be backed up on-line, near-line, off-line, and off-site.

Ok, that’s way too much information. What you need to know is that there’s a backup method that is just right for you…depending on your needs.

Data duplication is NOT a backup.

First, it is important to understand difference between data duplication and “backup.”

Duplicating data on a separate part of the same hard drive, gives you a duplicate copy of your files and folders but that is not a backup. Having a second hard drive in your computer to create a “mirror-image” provides a nice copy, but it is NOT data backup.

What about an external drive plugged into a USB port on your computer? If you are using an external hard drive you can think of it as the lowest level of backup. We like to think of it as a fancy copy. Yes, it has some backup qualities, but it also has limitations. For example, data backed up to an external hard drive probably will not include all of your software and associated licenses.


True BACKUP is the process of replicating the data on your computer so that it can be restored in a manner that allows you to access and use your programs, files and folders exactly as you need them.

A FULL backup will include every bit of data on your computer in a format that can be recovered completely. A FULL backup process can take hours depending on the volume of your data. But it is worth it.

INCREMENTAL and DIFFERENTIAL backups, while slightly different, basically store files that have changed since your last backup. This process is quicker, however these shortcut options can complicate restoring your data because your last FULL backup plus all subsequent incremental/differential backups will have to be processed and restored.

How does the process work?

Backing up can be done manually to an on-site storage medium or remotely to a data center (the “cloud”). Your data can also be automatically backed up with use of proprietary hardware/software on-site or remotely.

What does backup equipment look like?

Hard disk drives (solid state, SCSI, SATA) External hard drives

Optical storage (cds, dvds, blu-ray),

Other (flash memory, thumb drives, usb flash, etc), On the “Cloud”…remote backup service.

Backup options will be limited to the size of storage media used, backup window, performance capabilities, available bandwidth; and, the cost of hardware, software, and labor.

How should I prepare my data for backup?

The worst thing that can happen is finding out your “backed up” data cannot be recovered. Most home computers can be backed up safely by following the backup instructions or recommendations of the manufacturer. It never hurts to consult an IT professional to be sure that your data is backed up properly and is fully recoverable.

Analyze. Plan. Test. Implement.

Businesses may want to follow a more secure and safe process:

Analyze. Think about what data you need to store, where you store, how often you access it and the risks of losing it.

Plan. Develop a backup plan. Do you need double redundancy? What backup tools and software are best for your business? What data is critical? What data requires special security?

Test. IT professionals will tell you that the best backup “plans” fail because the plan is not tested. When your backup plan is in place, test it. Then retest it periodically. You can actually test by recovering data to be sure that you are getting back ALL the data you backup.

Implement. This is the point of failure for many businesses, especially small businesses who backup once or twice then forget about it. Establish backup schedules and processes and make it a part of your regular business routines. This is just as important for a one-computer home based business as it is for an enterprise.

When do I need professional IT support/ assistance with backup?

Enterprise businesses can’t function without an IT staff.

Yet, businesses with just one computer have the technology and data capacity of an enterprise (your laptop is 10,000 times more powerful than the computer on Voyager satellite which is hurtling through space a 33,000 miles per hour and still sending back valuable data from about 11 billion miles away).

For home-based businesses, we recommend that you consult with a reputable IT professional. You will have the peace of mind knowing that your incredible volume of computer data is backed up correctly and that you can recover it when you need it.

If you consider the data on your computer to be a valuable asset of your business, whether it’s one computer or 50, then you will want to consider working with an IT professional who can recommend, design and plan a backup strategy that is right for your business. But most importantly, you will want someone who can implement your backup strategy, insuring that your valuable data is safe, secure and available when you need it.

The best IT service team will be there for you… even when you don’t know you need them.

Solutions Networking Corporation

582 Territorial Drive, Unit E-F Bolingbrook, IL 60440 630-378-2222