archiving as opposed to backing up

From: John Foust <>
Date: Tue Sep 21 04:05:08 2004

At 07:55 PM 9/20/2004, Tom Jennings wrote:
>Though this is close to OT (twice in one day!), I'd like to comment on
>the concept of "backup"; though it takes place usually on new gear, it
>totally pertains to old data, and is why we have so little of it!*

Today's backup problems will be tomorrow's preservation problems,
so I think discussing backup, backup schemes, media, longevity,
etc. is always on topic here. I think the data explosion we've
been seeing will cripple PCs just as much as spyware and spam.

The average Joe will begin to experience catastrophic data loss and
it'll hurt. Recently I had to tell a young couple that their hard
disk was dead, dead and they'd lost years of baby pictures and that
their only slim hope was $1000 data recovery. Their system had a
CD-R but they never used it.

I see small businesses whose data is growing faster than they can
handle. A dentist client of mine backs-up gigs nightly. DLT is
expensive and it's barely fast enough to save it all during the
office's off-hours. He's creating more and more larger files
faster than he ever did before, yet I'm not convinced that his
industry-specific package can handle it in the long run, nevermind
whether it'll handle corruption down the line. Or all the small
businesses with dozens of PCs that have never been backed-up.
They're a horror.

Sure, a big IT company can throw SANs and admins at these problems,
but the average Joe Homeuser or Jane Smallbiz can't.

I look back on my own data backups, too - DATs, Exabytes, DLTs,
spare drives of each of those, and every time I've tried to examine
old tapes I find many that are unreadable. I can't even find the
time to erase them all. As they say, "Unless you have actually
restored from your backups, you only *think* you have backups."

Like Tom, the only stuff I trust is backups on live disks. I've been
giving the same advice to clients, too - hard disks are cheap enough
that I can set up Joe Homeuser with a spare HD and TaskZip to
automatically archive a copy of N versions of their My Documents
folder. Apart from catastrophic damage to the PC, it'll add
a layer of protection to save their data. That's a step in the
right direction.

But I bet that if I had a way to burn all my data to redundant
Mylar punched tape, I'd sleep better. It's a shame that pressed
CDs never really dropped much in price in the last decade. I was
thinking about that as a backup medium just the other day.

As for Web management of large volumes of flat text, images and multi-format
docs, I suspect there's a handcrafted path involving PHP. MySQL
and postNuke types of solutions, but I don't have time for a new career.

- John
Received on Tue Sep 21 2004 - 04:05:08 BST

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