Your data and it’s safety is probably the most overlooked part of home and small business computing. Data loss and protection must be taken seriously as we move more and more away from using paper in our day to day lives.
Data loss is an error condition in information systems in which information is destroyed by failures or neglect in storage, transmission, or processing. Information systems implement backup and disaster recovery equipment and processes to prevent data loss or restore lost data.
Data loss is distinguished from data unavailability, such as may arise from a network outage. Although the two have substantially similar effects, data unavailability is temporary, while data loss may be permanent. Data loss is also distinct from data spill, although the term data loss has been sometimes used in those incidents. Data loss incidents can, however, be also data spill incidents, in case media containing sensitive information is lost and subsequently acquired by another party. However, data spills are possible without the data being lost in the originating side.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON TYPE OF DATA LOSS? – Human error and software corruption/virus attack are the leading types of data loss.
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WHAT IS DATA PROTECTION AND WHY SHOULD I DO IT? – Data loss prevention can rarely be guaranteed. However, the frequency of data loss and the impact can be greatly mitigated by taking proper precautions. The different types of data loss demand different types of precautions. For example, multiple power circuits with battery backup and a generator will only protect against power failures. Similarly, using a journaling file system and RAID storage will only protect against certain types of software and hardware failure. Regular data backups are an important asset to have when trying to recover after a data loss event, but they don’t do much to prevent user errors or system failures.
A well rounded approach to data protection has the best chance of avoiding data loss events. Such an approach will also include such mundane tasks as maintaining antivirus protection and network firewalls, as well as staying up to date with all published security fixes and system patches. User education is probably the most important, and most difficult, aspect of preventing data loss. Nothing else will prevent users from making mistakes that jeopardize data security.
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HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BACKUP MY DATA? – The best answer to this question is, how important is the data to you? The more important your data is to you the more often you should back it up. Documents, financial data, music, pictures, and videos are the most valued data to users today. These should be backed up every night that you make changes to them. For highly important data you should burn it to optical media. Both Blu-ray discs and DVD discs make for very good backup media. A good name brand BD-R or DVD-R kept in a safety deposit box or a fire rated data storage safe (NOT paper storage, optical discs will melt well before paper will burn) will last well over 50 years.
A good general backup plan for most users would be to use a fan cooled external hard drive with management software like Acronis True Image for nightly backups. Every time you download a camera card or photos and videos from your smartphone/tablet to a computer, delete the pictures you do not want and burn the rest to optical media right then. Then based on the over all importance of all of your data you need to burn everything to optical media every month, every three months or at least every six months. Keep in mind the external hard drive you are depending on to backup your data to is the same class of storage media inside the computer. That means both hard drives can be destroyed by the same type of problem, such as electro-magnetic pulse, power failure or surge, virus, etc. While the only ways to destroy optical media are by scratching it, breaking it or melting it – there are no moving parts to fail and once the data is burned to the disc it can not become infected (if it was clean to start with). With the rise of ransomware you need to keep an offline copy of your backup hard drive. By offline I mean you plug in this drive every so often and copy the contents of your primary backup drive to it then unplug the drive. Ransomeware can not effect the drive and its data if it is not plugged in. If you want to be super safe, have 2 offline backup drives and rotate them so you never have all of your backup drives plugged in at once.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO BACKUP MY DATA? – In Information Technology, a backup or the process of backing up refers to making copies of data so that these additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event. The verb form is back up in two words, whereas the noun is backup (often used like an adjective in compound nouns).
Backups have two distinct purposes. The primary purpose is to recover data as a reaction to data loss, be it by data deletion or corrupted data. Data loss is a very common experience of computer users. 67% of internet users have suffered serious data loss. The secondary purpose of backups is to recover data from a historical period of time within the constraints of a user-defined data retention policy, typically configured within a backup application for how long copies of data are required. Though backups popularly represent a simple form of disaster recovery, and should be part of a disaster recovery plan, by themselves, backups should not alone be considered disaster recovery. Not all backup systems and/or backup applications are able to reconstitute a computer system, or in turn other complex configurations such as a computer cluster, active directory servers, or a database server, by restoring only data from a backup.
Since a backup system contains at least one copy of all data worth saving, the data storage requirements are considerable. Organizing this storage space and managing the backup process is a complicated undertaking. A data repository model can be used to provide structure to the storage. In the modern era of computing there are many different types of data storage devices that are useful for making backups. There are also many different ways in which these devices can be arranged to provide geographic redundancy, data security, and portability.
Before data is sent to its storage location, it is selected, extracted, and manipulated. Many different techniques have been developed to optimize the backup procedure. These include optimizations for dealing with open files and live data sources as well as compression, encryption, and de-duplication, among others. Many organizations and individuals try to have confidence that the process is working as expected and work to define measurements and validation techniques. It is also important to recognize the limitations and human factors involved in any backup scheme.
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