Backing Up Data to Protect Against Corruption

I frequently search the Internet looking for answers to questions and issues that I run across in my daily work. I often find useful and valuable information. However, I also find a lot of misinformation posted by people who pretend to know what they are talking about. When reading forums and threads about data backup, I often find the comment from someone who thinks they have the ultimate answer. "Just get a 500GB USB drive and copy your data to it". The person who posts such advice is never an expert, and is often a computer amateur who thinks he is smarter than the professionals who recommend more robust backup methods.

Just plugging in a big USB drive and copying your data is not a bad idea if you are not backing up your data any other way. But the aforementioned method only protects against a limited set of problems that render your data useless. Suppose a virus writes zeros to half of your files and then you copy your data to your usb drive. Your backup data would also be worthless if you only had one recent copy on a usb drive. On the other hand, if you were using a tape backup system and retaining your backups for several weeks, you would probably be able to restore a good copy that was made before the corruption occurred. This is one very simple example of how backup methods can be used to protect against problems other than a complete hard drive failure.

The most common cause of data loss is human error, not hardware failure. I have personally experienced several hard drive failures over the last 20 years or so, but I have had many more occasions to restore data because it was accidentally deleted or updated and I wanted an older version. Here's a good one: You get a new computer and copy your documents over from the old computer. Eventually you dispose of the old computer. Later you realize that you didn't copy some of your old data from your old computer. This kindof thing happens everyday.

An effective backup system retains versions of files for a period of time so that old files can be retrieved. If you are doing regular, frequent, backups and retaining your backup data according to a plan, then you are protected against a much wider range of problems. When someone gives you advice over the Internet, don't assume they know what is best for you. Even though the USB drive seems like a good cheep alternative, it is not particularly effective against many common data losses. At a minimum, I suggest using a good online backup service as a component of your backup strategy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post is extremely informative. Backing up data is something we all have to deal with in this digital age. If you have failed to properly back up your data, Flashback Data ( is also a great option to get help with data recovery. I recommend checking out the website if you’re computer has finally died and taken all your important files with it. There is tons of useful information. They can retrieve data from pretty much any media type.