Data Backup Basics

Joseph ComoWebsite Tips

Protecting your computer/ business data is a top priority.  The idea is simple enough, but choosing the right type of backup plan or program can be difficult.

The main goal of data backup is to create a copy of the data so that if the data is lost or corrupted, it can be restored.  Thus, data backup is only one part of the operation….data recovery is the other. 

Data backup is sometimes confused with data storage or archiving.  Data in storage is not currently being used so the primary or original data is moved out of the way.  Backups involve a secondary set or a copy of something that is being used.  Storage is often a low cost service while backup and retrieval services cost more.

There are three types of data backup: full, incremental and differential.

Full backups.   A full backup makes a copy of ALL data and transfers it to tape, DVD or CD. This action takes a while to complete and uses a lot of storage space, but recovery is fairly quick.  Every business should do this at least weekly.

Incremental backups.  After making a full backup, most companies find it important to make incremental backups at least daily. This gives maximum protection of data that is constantly changing or updating.  Incremental backups backup any files that have changed since the last incremental backup.  This means the backup is faster and takes up less space that a full back up.  There is a down side, however.  Restoration of incremental backup files takes longer because you must restore the last full backup along with the incremental ones performed since that time.

Differential backups.  A differential backup is similar to an incremental except that it will copy all data changed from last full backup.  Thus, differential backups require even more space and extra time to complete than incremental backups.

Perhaps the most effective backup strategy is to use a combination of at least two types of backups.  For example:  full weekly + differential daily or full weekly + incremental daily. 

At the end of day, it isn’t really a question of whether to backup your data or not, but rather, which combination of backup scenarios best fit your business and data security goals.  Oh yes, and your budget!