Zero Touch Backup

For the last couple of years the popularity of portable hard-drives for backing up data has risen. My first instinct is that this is good news. However, my unscientific polling reveals that the people who are using the portable hard-drives for backup are the same people who used to backup data with tapes, CDs, other media. I was hoping that the rising popularity of this data backup method was an indication that the low cost of these backup devices was causing more people to backup their data. But, it turns out that most of the gains are from people who are just modernizing their backup process, and the people who were not backing up data are still not backing up data.

These USB and Firewire devices are great products. The cost is reasonable, and they are fairly easy to use. They are much easier to use than tape based backup systems, and they are somewhat easier to use than backing up to CD's or DVD's. All you really have to do is plug one of these devices into your computer, and then start dragging files and folders to drive in your file explorer.

Some of the portable drives offer a One Touch Backup feature that allows the user to simply press a button to start a backup of their data. These drives can be used as regular USB or Firewire drives, but if you want to use the One Touch feature you will need to install and configure software on your computer. Seagate, Maxtor, and Iogear all offer excellent One Touch Backup products.

These devices make backing up data easier than it has ever been before. Hopefully this will encourage more people to backup their data. Unfortunately, most people don't pay much attention to backing up their data until they have a loss. Even the people who do backup their data tend make two common mistakes: 1) Not backing up data frequently enough, or they frequently forget to do their backups. 2) Not keeping a copy in a separate location from the computer.

There is one thing better than One Touch Backup, and that is Zero Touch Backup. This is accomplished with automated scheduled backups. A lot of the software backup packages, including the software that comes bundled with some One Touch Backup solutions, have a scheduling feature built-in. In order for the backup to be truly automated and reliable, then the system should not depend on a human to change a tape, plug in a backup drive or anything else. Online Backup, also known by other names like; Offsite Backup, Internet Backup and Remote Backup are the only way to accomplish this.

There are machines that will change your tapes for you, but those are very expensive and require careful configuration and maintenance. Portable hard-drives can be plugged in and left alone to receive backup data, but that means your drive is connected to your computer and vulnerable to some of the same problems that may destroy your data. A virus could easily wipe out your computer's hard-drive as well as any other hard-drive that is connected to your computer, such as a portable hard-drive. Either way; portable hard-drive, or tape library, you still have the issue of maintaining a copy off-site, which will always require human intervention. Onlne backup solutions are the only way to get your backups completely automated and data moved offsite with absolutely no manual effort.

I encourage everyone to backup their data consistently and frequently. Firewire and USB external hard-drives are a great choice, especially the ones that offer One Touch Backup. Online Backup provides Zero Touch Backup which is an even better solution in a lot of ways because it automates what we tend to forget to do.

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