November 28, 2019

Are you taking enough backups?

We never thought of losing data as the difference between a backup and storage is not understood.
Are you taking enough backups?

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We never thought of losing data as the difference between a backup and storage is not understood. Finding a difference between the two is quite easy. However, the utility of taking backups is not understood enough.

Are people lazy?

It would be unfair to say that people are lazy to take backups as computers are capable enough to keep the data secure. However, at some point in time, we lose our precious data due to power failure, mechanical faults (all hard drives will eventually fail), virus, theft, natural disasters etc.

It is then we started to panic and repent on not having enough to keep the data back up. It is a gut-wrenching experience of losing data and utter disappointment on our decision of storing data without having enough copies stored somewhere else.

It's too technical?

While technology offers ease of doing things and automation, many felt that it is difficult to understand backup jargon and methods used to backup data.

Many of us find it difficult from where to start and the easiest way is to copy the critical data on external memory like USB hard drives etc. I use to do the same for several years, and it worked flawlessly, until one day, my USB drive ain’t working, and all efforts were in vain to recover the data.

Possible Solutions

Following are a few options available, cheapest to expensive and easy to difficult:

1. The easiest and affordable way is to copy the critical data to a USB external drive. That’s it. However, this is a bluff.

2. Take two exact copies of your data on two external USB drives. This may sigh relief as you reduce the probability of losing data on all drives. However, by automating this workflow will reduce your time and efforts significantly. Even today, I am using this software (paid version) for this purpose, and it keeps the data between different external drives synced.

3. Sign up for popular backup solutions like Google Drive or DropBox for storing data which many people find quite easy to use. However, space provided may run out over time and requires a periodic fee (monthly/yearly) to purchase more space.

4. Built your server, using an old computer or laptop and install a software like Tonido, Resilio Sync or Free NAS. However, it requires technical knowledge to set up the server. Once done, all your devices, like laptops, mobile phones, tablets are synced with the server. However, this is not enough as syncing the data does not mean that backup is taken. You still need to take enough copies of data.

5. Cloud backup solution is one of the easiest and cheapest choice to make backups. So what is cloud backup? It is a service where your data is kept on a machine, 24/7 accessible through the internet. What makes it different from Google Drive and DropBox is that it provide version control. Not even, you can recover the lost file, but also you can restore a certain number of previous versions of the same file. Popular services include BackblazeiDriveCarboniteCrashplan. Such companies offer strong encryption and security for your data.

6. However, if you do not trust third-party cloud services, you may go for Network Attached Storage devices having similar features like cloud backup solutions. Such devices are physically resided in your home or safe location of your choice, without any fear of being controlled by others.

Also, such NAS devices now offer easy setup and one-click setup function. You can access your NAS device anywhere in the world as they are connected to your home internet modem or router.

Popular devices include Western DigitalSynologyQNAPDroboBuffalo. However, these devices tend to expensive but offer one-stop-shop for all your backup needs. Besides, you can set up small media, mail or web server on such devices.

Such devices have built-in data redundancy features which means that even internal hard drive failure will not result in data loss. You are also protected from Ransomvirus, worms etc., as such systems store several versions of the same file and you can recover the latest file flawlessly.

What am I using?

I have chosen NAS device solution as best, to meet my needs. With more than two decades of data residing on my different external hard drives. I wanted a robust solution which is future proof and can automate my workflow without any manual interference to take backups.

I follow the 3-2-1 strategy as a methodology to take backups. This means that there are always three copies of data in three different formats in three different places.

To make it simple, this means,

  1. One backup is NAS device with data redundancy, even if one hard drive fails, the other hard drives in the NAS still keeps the data secure. Such NAS device is located in my home. (Primary Site).
  2. Daily backup of this NAS device on an external hard drive attached to the NAS. (Primary site).
  3. The NAS device on the primary site is synced with another NAS device located far away from my home and the data between two devices is automatically synced. (Offsite Site). Also, the NAS in off-site location is backup on an external hard drive attached to it.
  4. Besides, I have two copies of data in different formats on external USB hard drives, not attached to any NAS device or computer and take backup once a month.
  5. Lastly, only critical data is stored on a cloud service provider.

I am using Synology DS918+ (Primary Site) and Synology DS218+ (Offsite). I have a total 28TB space available for backup, however, to make room for data redundancy, only 6GB is available for actual backup, while 14TB is for the external USB drive.

Such NAS devices tend to last for more than a decade 24/7, as they use special NAS hard drives which are quite expensive than a standard hard drive, and their internal hardware and software is very robust. Synology offers more than three years of free upgrades and more than five years of free security upgrades.


So what is your take? Are you serious about your data or waiting for an unfortunate event to knock you off?. It is still not late and evaluate of getting the best solution which suits you.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Do share your thoughts and experience in the comments below.

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