30% of data backup disasters caused by accidents

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The following was originally published on April 3, 2016 on Seacoastonline.com.

Did you know this past Thursday, March 31 was World Backup Day? It was and hopefully you believe in good backups to protect your data, whether personal or professional.

World Backup Day is a private initiative that seeks to increase awareness of the importance of data in our lives. Because of this, backup is no longer a luxury, it’s an absolute must to protect our digital filing cabinets, photo albums, electronic medical records, document management systems, databases and more. I love the tag line for World Backup Day: “Don’t be an April Fool, Be prepared. Backup your files on March 31.” I’d actually change it just a bit, to say not only March 31, but every day of the year.

With the advent of imaging technology and online backup, backing up your data is far simpler than it used to be. I remember the days of managing multiple sets of backup tapes, one that would stay in the office and one that would go to the bank safe deposit box for secure off-site storage. These systems were extremely expensive and manually intensive, not to mention very prone to human error. Only larger companies could afford to maintain a proper backup rotation that would ensure they were keeping enough backup copies to protect the business. For individuals, backing up was nearly impossible as you would need multiple disks of one form or another, to copy all your data for backup. This was a very manual process and extremely prone to human error, most frequently in the form of simply forgetting to do it.

Fast forward to the present and USB drives with massive capacity and online backup services make this process for more efficient and reliable. Today, most organizations employ a form of imaging to take snapshots, digital copies, of their data several times a day and then copy these backup images to secure off-site data centers. Most organizations also employ encryption to secure these images as they are created so as they get transferred to the off-site data center they can’t be intercepted by hackers or electronic thieves. These systems ensure data is protected and in the event of loss or corruption, able to be quickly restored. In many cases, organizations also have the ability to restore their data in the Cloud and make it accessible, on a temporary basis, to keep business operations in tact when there is a larger problem with the source network.

For individuals, there are numerous backup services that run continuously on your computers to backup your data as you create it, in real time. The key to these services are that they are highly reliable and fully automated, so as long as your computer is turned on and connected to the Internet, the backup software is protecting you with little to no interaction required. Gone is the risk of human error. In the consumer market, these services are also extremely inexpensive, so if you can afford a computer, you can afford to backup your important data.

Why you should backup should be obvious, but the simple fact there is a World Backup Day underscores the point that even though most computer users do backup, there is still tremendous room for improvement. Consider some of these risk factors: more than 100 mobile devices are lost or stolen every minute. One in 10 computers is infected with some form of virus of malware, 30 percent of people have never backed up and 30 percent of disasters are caused by accidents. Don’t be someone who contributes to these statistics.

My wife is a professional genealogical researcher and backup and proper preservation is paramount to her work. Decades and even centuries old documentation is being converted to digital form in the hopes of being able to preserve this important information for generations to come. As we continue to migrate into an increasingly digital world, it’s critical that we preserve critical records for the future. Imagine researchers of the future not being able to find historical data about people, companies and entire civilizations. So even though World Backup Day has come and gone, make every day World Backup Day. The future will thank you.

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