How to Store Your Data: Onsite and Offsite Methods for Effective Data Backup
This is an original article written by Evrim Ağacı. The references used in this article is given at the bottom of the article. All the content created by Evrim Ağacı can be shared and distributed as long as a clearly identifiable, hyperlinked reference is given back to this page.
With the advancements on technology, amount of data produced by human race increased immensely. All started by some pictures on some cave wall; then stone tablets, papers and books followed.
But now, every single one of us has some valuable data to store, not to mention organizations or businesses. The reasons may be very diverse. You might someday want to show your pictures from old days to your newest family members, you might need decades-old statistical information to compare with new data or just need information of your all contacts when your phone went down.
Whatever the reason is or whoever you are, you have some information which matters to you in present or future. So how do you protect your data to able to access it when you want to share it with someone, or provide your boss with relevant data?
There are several ways, and they are categorized under two titles such as offsite and onsite backups.
Onsite backup means locally stored data, which you can access immediately. It has some advantages and disadvantages.
- Readily available anytime
- Generally cheaper option
- No internet access needed
- Can be damaged and become irretrievable
- Can become obsolete by advancing technology
- Can be stolen
You might consider using several devices to store the same data, or transfer them regularly to assure no data loss happens. It can be a solution but it will be time-consuming work, growing with amount of data stored.
But how do you store your data?
To store your relevant data, you can use the old ways, but books are not very durable under some conditions. Also translating your digital information writeable format is not very easy, especially if it is a digital application. It will take an immense amount of paper to print it all. So this is not an option anymore.
We may use some various devices being used since the invention of computers. If we are going to list some of them it goes on like this: Optical discs like compact discs (CD), digital versatile discs (DVD) or blue ray; magnetic tapes; hard disk drives (HDD) or solid state drives (SSD). Let’s check these briefly and see how beneficial they are.
Optical discs are generally polycarbonate surfaces shaped round to able ease access to relevant sector of the disc by optical devices. This optical devices mark or read sectors by using lasers. They practically open a very small dot on the surface by burning it, and while reading it they use a low intensity laser to receive information.
Optical discs are reasonably sturdy for short terms to save data, but in the long run they are prone to malfunction like everything else due to conditions like mechanical stress or temperature. Also every optical device is not guaranteed to read your stored data. Reader’s brand is also a variable on readability of the optical disc. But if you are lucky you might store data with these technologies for around ten years.
As the name suggests, this storage units work by magnetism. A surface coated by magnetizable coating serves as storage. Some would remember using cassettes on recorders or floppy discs being used for such purposes. It might sound like an outdated way to store information, but surprisingly it is still relevant.
If you are considering storing your data this way, it might be even cheaper than other options. Tape remains a viable alternative to disk in some situations due to its lower cost per bit. This is a large advantage when dealing with large amounts of data. Though the areal density of tape is lower than for disk drives, the available surface area on a tape is far greater.
For more, IBM had recently announced that they had been able to record 148 gigabits per square inch with magnetic tape media developed using a new vacuum thin-film forming technology able to form extremely fine crystal particles, allowing true tape capacity of 185 TB.
With using magnetic tapes, you can store your data for ten or twenty years. But they also suffer from the conditions like temperature or magnetic fields of any kind.
Hard or Solid State Drives
Hard disk drives a solid state drives are devices being used to store information in household computers for long durations. Their difference from temporary storage unit also known as RAM (random access memory) is that they may store data without any power requirement.
Hard disk drives and solid state drives work a little different from each other. The HDD’s function with discs covered with magnetic coating that store data by getting magnetized. On the other hand, SSD devices store data similar to RAM devices, but the difference Is SSD’s have more durable capacitors to store data unlike RAM units. This both devices use transistors and a capacitor to aid data storage, but RAM capacitors are less powerful since RAM need to refresh a lot faster.
Since HDD’s use magnetism, they last longer than SSD units; around five or seven years. SSD units, due to their capacitor limitations only last of two or three years. If proper maintenance applied and data backed up regularly between devices, they might last for ten or twenty years.
This backup type includes online data storage options like cloud systems or torrent method. There are certain advantages and disadvantages for this type.
- Data can be accessed from any location, via Internet or FTP
- Survivability of data is more likely in case of accidents or disasters
- Backup data can be shared with several remote locations
- Access to data might be tricky depending on preferred storage method
- Dependency on a company which might face problems any business face
- Limitations on access to devices actually store data, unable to verify at ease
To store your data, online storing is a fair option. But there are some issues as mentioned above. Even If you have a liable internet access, several issues might rise. Your data might be unenviable due to maintenance at cloud servers. Servers might be poorly maintained, or company might go bankrupt. So to avoid such problems, sing several ways combined would be a clever thing to do.
Also since you handle your information to someone else, reliability of other party is also a concern. Investigating the legal procedures on ownership of data and carefully reading user agreement strongly suggested before making a decision.
Copying your backup to several different cloud servers would be a good solution, using at least three different sources are recommended. You may also combine this method with onsite solutions, therefore creating even stronger backups. But it might be hard to update your backup when needed since many devices and applications involved.
What are the examples for online storage?
There are many torrent programs managing information, and different cloud server operators you might choose. Let’s take a look at our options closely.
Torrent programs are downloadable content stored in users’ computers instead of a server. These programs bind users’ computers and share information between this computers. These computers named as seeders and leechers. A seeder is a computer providing information it has already downloaded, a leecher is a computer that downloading and uploading the necessary information in the same time. Leechers don’t possess the whole file.
The plus side of this system is that if a file is needed regular basis, as long as there is a seeder it can be accessed and stored. The down side is if the file is not a popular file which is constantly needed, you won’t be able to download it since there will be no one actually using torrent program to process it.
Cloud storage uses big servers on different locations on Earth to provide access and storage of the data. Business or private user versions have minor differences, but both work basically the same way. Like the system you have in your office, - in which you may share files and upload or download them from another computer in local network - cloud system use a distant server which grant access to user to upload or download files as requested. These servers not even have to be all at one place.
There are several companies providing cloud services. For private users, a service like Dropbox might a good option. It provides 2 GB of storage for free, and it may be upgraded by different means. Also you may create links to your files for anyone to access them through that link; it may be mailed or shared online with ease. It is also good for small businesses.
For businesses, services like Google cloud storage might be a more preferable option. Its advantages are high-speed service with good quality, and “pay for what you use” model. This is cost effective for companies. There is no minimum fee to pay, and the data is encrypted to provide security.
Cloud storage in general has the longest duration in general with minimum maintenance. Choosing this way may be beneficial for users with long-term needs.
In conclusion, no method is perfect. All of them have some good traits, using the best one suit your needs is the key to achieving what you need. Or using them together to balance each other I also a good option to consider.