Business Backups: 5 different ways to store them
With anything related to technology; there are so many different options available to achieve basically the same thing. It’s no different when it comes to the various devices and storage available to safely store those business backups.
We’re going to cover a few different variations of potential storage for your business backups; outlining their pro’s and con’s along the way.
1. External Hard Drives
Just as the description outlines; external hard drives are plug and play with the majority of computers or other devices. The most common is the USB hard drive or USB thumb drive.
These are a popular form a backup media due to the relative cost and amount of storage that is available. Just a quick look online, I can see a 3TB Western Digital USB hard drive is around $120.
Another large positive for external hard drives is they’re easily portable as they’re small in size and weigh very little.
Some of the downside to using external hard drives is that they (at some point in time) need to be in the same place as the source files that they’re used to back up. Should a disaster scenario occur; it could be that the backup drive and source system are lost in the same event. This is why it’s important to have a number of external hard drives and rotate them. That way at least one drive is always in a different location.
External hard drives are also fairly static when it comes to being scale as a business grows. They’re virtually impossible to increase physical storage size. This means once your business has outgrown the current drives; a new set with larger storage capacity will need to be purchased.
In saying this; they’re generally a very popular option for smaller business backups due to their versatility and portability.
2. Network Attached Storage (NAS)
Network Attached Storage (or NAS for short) are computers which are designed to store hard drives to be used as a storage hub on a network. They’re generally permanently connected to the network and the storage provided can be accessed (depending on permissions) from any machine that’s connected to the network.
The advantages of using a NAS to store business backups is that they’re able to support mixed environments (i.e. a network running a combination of Windows, Linux, Mac or other operating systems). NAS devices are also very easy to configure as they pretty much come assembled. The main setup requirements are configuring network settings and seating the hard drives within the caddy.
Cost is also fairly respectable with a solid NAS device setting you back between $500 all the way up to full enterprise devices of over $10,000 (not including hard drives).
The main issues that go against network attached storage for business backups. They can sometimes take up quite a bit of physical space in the server rack and are not easily portable (unlike an external hard drive). They’re also susceptible to network congestion or outages.
Scalability can also be a problem as capacity is reached. The decision to replace the internal drives to increase storage, or purchase a new NAS device and drives (meaning more physical space as well as additional monitoring and management requirements) will be required.
3. Cloud Storage
Becoming more and more popular by the day. The cloud is fast becoming the preferred method of hosting and storing data (including backups).
We’ve covered cloud for business backups fairly extensively in previous articles.
4. Tape Drive
More of a traditionalists choice when it comes to backup storage. Popularity for the humble tape drive was at it’s peak around 20 – 25 years ago; but still has a bit of a cult following among IT technicians and businesses. The reason for this is that they’re easy to move and store. Also seen as more reliable than external hard drives as they don’t contain moving parts that may seize if not used regularly (although this author hasn’t seen any evidence to back this up before).
They are a very good option for data archiving as they can be stored for a number of years. Which is great when it comes to accounting records, legal documents and medical records that may require access in the future; but are most likely to be static once their direct period is complete.
The downfall for tape backup however is that the cost can be a little more expensive when it comes to purchasing the tape drive (upwards of $2000) as well as the tapes. This is in comparison with other media on the market. Tape drives also require more maintenance and have very sensitive parts which if slightly out can cause the entire unit to become unusable.
5. Optical Drives (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
Similar to Tape Drives, backing up to optical drives is something that was popular in the late 90’s to early 2000’s. It’s a great way to store data for long periods in the event it may be needed in the future should some form of audit come up.
However; the limited storage sizes that DVD and Blu-ray provide (anywhere between 4GB and 50GB typically…although more advanced and expensive varieties can go upto 200 to 300GB) mean that they’re no longer feasible to effectively store business backups (regardless the size of the business).