At times, while working on important document we talk to our self. "This file is really very important and I should take a backup of same or email a copy to myself if in case something wrong happens."
"I have to make certain changes to the master copy, but I need to refer back to this master copy the way it is right now, so I should create a backup copy with different name before I start working on this."
If answer is yes then you are already familiar with one type of backup system: Manual backups. These are backups, which you made manually whenever you plan about it.
Creating a manual backup by saving a copy of a file with a new name every time with timestamp might be helpful as it create a reference point. Manual backup is good to certain extent because it make user aware why and when file was made.
Relying solely on manual backups is not at all safe. At times users don't know when they have to take a backup. When users are working on a project they handle multiple jobs at the same time and chances are high they forget to take manual backup as they have many other jobs in priority.
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Before jumping to the conclusion which disaster recovery solution is best? User has to find out sincere answer to the following question
With above mentioned questions in mind let's try to answer each one of them and take a closer look of each option.
For years CDs was one of the favorite medium to take a backup as they are inexpensive and easily available. Unluckily CDs have limited storage space nearly 700 MB per CD, 4 or 8 GB per DVD, 25-50 GB DVD. However Blu-ray burners never got any popularity as blank discs are still very expensive.
CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray are portable and easy to handle. They can be easily stack up in the rack and labeled. Doesn't get wear-tear easily unless user abuse them.
CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray are really very slow and can't be automate under any circumstances. It is troublesome to backup large chunk of data than can fit on to one disk. Large backups file might spread on multiple disks and require specialized software. This can be complicated disaster recovery process of restore the backups in the future. Having large number of disk might add complexity and cost to backup process.
Clone drive is also knows as system restore or bootable backup drive. It is a complete & full backup of the hard drive taken at a particular instance. This type of backup is used to boot up the computer in case it's hard drive crash or wear out.
A clone is a lifesaver if a computer hard drive got bad or not operational condition. In ideal situation computer machine is booted up with a clone drive and try to diagnose the root cause or repair main drive from the backup. If in case main drive requires to be exchanged, clone drive can be used until the replacement drive arrives.
A cloned drive might not have any log of file deletion or changes. It is purely a snapshot of a particular instance. If user deleted a most recent file by mistake then he/she might not able to recover the same from few days old clone image. This means, if user realizes that he/she accidentally deleted a file a week ago, then recently updated clone drive will not be of any help.
Important Note: Clone drive won't help to revive the computer if it not working for other reason than a failed hard drive.
When user back up the files to an external hard drive user is not backing up the full drive; instead, user is backing up only important files. Different from cloned drive, an archive on external drive is not a snapshot image; instead it will show full history of archived file including updated and deleted files.
Thus an archive file can help to recover only those files which have been corrupted or which had changes that user want to undo.
An archive file can allow user to access old files and recover them to a time before user made a change.
Most archive software is not updated in real time. Running backups on continuous basis can slow down the computer. That's why external drive backups run after a particular interval of time generally few minutes i.e. Mac based archiving utility name 'Time Machine' runs after every one hour. Any update made in-between when the archive file has been updated will not be reflected.
Another concern is, if a file is renamed or moved on the primary drive it is difficult to search old versions in the archive unless user remembers the exact name of the file.
The major problem is external hard drive is sensitive to local disasters, e.g. virus attack, fire or a robbery.
Other alternative to backup is online storage service like iCloud Drive, Microsoft's Azure, Amazon S3, Drop Box, Google Drive and others, they give the option to keep the file on the computer and at the same time on their cloud server. However, online storage services are mainly designed for synching files and not an ideal disaster recovery service. The main reason that syncing files is not an ideal backup system is that when user erases file in link account on the computer machine then, it will be deleted on the cloud server as well. If in case deletion was an accident or mistake, then there is no way to retrieve those files. Moreover, most sharing and syncing services put the burden on users to copy their significant files on the sharing and syncing server and take no responsibility of any data lost due to accident.
These services are available on 24X7 basis whenever user need to access the data they can log on to internet, and user never have to trouble about running out of storage space on online storage server, though user will be charge for add-on space as archives grow.
Although nearly all online storage service provider offer free storage space for first few GBs of files but this can prove to be expensive disaster recovery platform as once user consume free storage space, then service provider will charge him/her for additional space and at same time user have to maintain exact copy of data on computer as well. In other words for extra space user have to pay service provider and might buy add on local hard drive.
These storage services are generally bit slower than offline backups as they bank on internet connection speed to download or upload the data so can't be considered as ideal disaster recovery method.
Furthermore, few service providers also charge user for downloads and uploads of data apart from storage costs.
If users want to enjoy the convenience of archive backups and without any complication of online storage services, then online backup service is the best disaster recovery solution for them. User just have to create an account on the website of backup service provider, download and set up their proprietary software, and run in the background on the computer.
Online backups are true disaster recovery service can work in real time or schedule in the background as per the convenience to upload the data to cloud server. To download the file from cloud server, users just need to connect to the internet and download the file on any computer. Their software is generally designed to optimize the data send on cloud server, to avoid any duplication. The main advantage of Cloud backup service provider is that they store data on remote server on more than one location as a part of contingency plan, they protect against natural disaster like fire, flood or theft. Thus user doesn’t have to concern about what if cloud backup server is not operational.
The initial upload of data to cloud backup server might take days or even weeks, depending on the size of data user is backing up. Once done, only changed files will be uploaded. This can be a concern if your internet has limited cap.
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