Data Backups

March 20, 2024 - Dustin Glendinning


Where is your work? That's a bit harder to answer now than a decade or two ago. Assuming you work with digital content, sure, you know where to click on your computer to make your work show up onscreen, but do you know where that data is physically? Why? What's your plan when that physical device breaks, is stolen, or otherwise becomes inaccessible? Let's break down what data backup is, and why it should be done.


What is "backing up your data"?

Plainly said, a backup is an identical copy of a dataset on a separate physical device that retains changes for a set period of time. The goal is to be prepared for damage or disaster to your data. A rule of thumb I practice is to look at every individual hard drive my company, Massive Mission, uses, and think, "What's my plan when this dies?". In our case, we replace it and go back to work. Just like tires on your car wear down, hard drives or any physical object will eventually need to be replaced, it's entropy. So, do you have a plan in place when your hard drives stop working? 

The retention part of a backup is equally important, mainly to prevent human error. There's not much point in a backup if the backup also deletes the file you accidentally deleted. But this also protects against ransomware attacks, having a duplicate copy of your data that can be reverted to in a worst-case scenario.


How do you backup 

The best practice is to have two identical storage devices and automate copying the changed data from the source device to the backup. Even better is to keep these devices separated in two different geographic locations. 

Automating this process is incredibly helpful since that removes the human element of forgetting to run a backup. Automated backups also speed up the process so that it is done more frequently and there are fewer changes to replicate. 


It's not 'just in case', it's standard

There's a saying that goes, "digital data doesn't exist until it exists in three places". Especially in the case of a business, I find this to be true. Backups should not just be an afterthought or a "someday" task. If you make a living using and storing data, part of your responsibility is to back it up properly. In fact, World Backup Day is March 31! Make it an event and be sure your data is backed up!