Today when computers, mobile phones drive our daily lives and business, backup (personal, professional or business) plays a very crucial role in ensuring continuity. Simply speaking, backup is the activity of copying data so that it is preserved in case of failure or other catastrophe. You can back up files using operating system commands, or you can buy a special-purpose backup utility. There are many ways to backup data. Some of the most commonly used data backup along with their advatages and challenges are presented below:
CD (Compact Disc) & DVD (Digital Versatile/Video Disc)
A CD/DVD is used for electronically recording, storing, and playing back audio, video, text and other information in digital form. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to write-once audio and data storage (CD-R/DVD-R), rewritable media (CD-RW/DVD-RW) and many more.
A CD-R/DVD-R (R for recordable) is a type of write once, read many (WORM) disc format that allows one-time recording on a disc. A CD can hold data up to 700 MB whereas a DVD can hold up to 4.7 GB of data. With packet writing software and a compatible CD-R/DVD-R or CD-RW/DVD-RW drive, it is possible to save data to a CD-R/DVD-R in the same way that one can save it to a floppy disk, although – since each part of the disc can only be written once – it is not possible to delete files and then reuse the space. A CD-RW/DVD-RW (RW for rewriteable) is a disc format that allows repeated recording on a disc. .
- Advantages: – A CD/DVD provides an "archive", or permanent record of the data copied at minimum cost if data stored is less (about 700 MB or less for CD and 4.7 GB or less for DVD). That is its main advantage over all other types of data storage.
- Issues:- There are many issues related to CD/DVD. Firstly, they require special drives to read/write. WORM discs are permanent and do not provide enough data storage in comparison to other storage technologies.
A magnetic tape device is used for storing information, in which signals are recorded by lining up small bits of magnetic materials in the coating on the tape. Modern magnetic tape is most commonly packaged in cartridges and cassettes. Magnetic tapes generally comes in two forms i.e. tape reels and cassettes or cartridges. Tape reels are fairly large and are usually used to back up data from mainframe computers whereas Cassettes or cartridges are fairly small in size but able to hold enough data to back up the data held on a personal computer or a small network.
- Advantages: – Magnetic tape is relatively cheap and can hold in excess of 20GB of data (it is possible to get devices that will back up over 200 GB of data). It is also easy to increase the backup capacity by simply adding some more tape. Tape drives also use less power and are more reliable. Tapes of high capacities such as 5 TB are also in market, generally preferred for datacenter work.
- Issues: – One of the serious issues related to magnetic tape is serial access which means that in order to get to something on the tape; you have to go through everything that comes before it. So, due to serial access, it is relatively slow to find the data that you need. Also, special hardware is needed to read the tapes. Most standard PCs do not come with the hardware required to use them.
Cloud Storage is nothing but storage solution for the Internet. Cloud Storage Service Provider will have a cluster of highly scalable servers with simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. In simple terms, Cloud Storage, from an end user perspective is nothing but an unlimited amount of online disk space that is secure, inexpensive and highly available to store/backup/restore data from PCs, Laptops and Servers. There are currently two popular approaches to cloud data backup: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud storage services.
As an alternative to on-premise software and secondary storage, backup SaaS is a Web-native application hosted and operated at a central location and accessed via a browser-based interface. It is typically characterized as having a multi-tenant architecture (i.e., a shared, scalable infrastructure that keeps data virtually separated) and a utility pricing model.
Cloud storage services are a hybrid of on- and off-premise components. For backup, the IT organization has on-premise control of software and, optionally, hardware, coupled with leveraging off-premise services or infrastructure. Cloud backup services are charged back to the customer on a consumption basis — based on capacity, bandwidth or seat.
- Advantages: – Cloud storage is a safe and secured way of backing up data on remote data storage. It is accessible from anywhere and is usually cheap with pay as you go model. Organizations can leverage the unlimited scalability of a third-party cloud provider without the upfront capital expenditure. In fact, the pay-as-you-go model significantly reduces the procurement and provisioning headaches for backup. This approach allows for predictable management of capacity growth and operational costs. One of the great features of cloud storage is that it comes with inbuilt disaster recovery facility and there is no need to worry about any hardware to maintain.
- Issues: – For cloud storage, high internet bandwidth is needed. Also, the data resides on 3rd party servers, so if they close their shop, then you need to worry about your data. Depending on the total capacity of data, the first full backup and/or full recovery of site data could prove to be too time-consuming. Most of the Cloud Backup service providers charge based on data backed up. So, if you have more data, then you will be charged more.
An external hard drive is a high capacity data storage device. It allows the user to back up or store important information separate from the main internal hard drive. External hard drive is compatible with the three major operating systems: Windows, Mac OS and UNIX; and connects with the computer with a simple USB cable. These are gaining popular acceptance among many user segments as these are fairly lightweight drives, which can store thousands of documents, large-capacity files and more, and can be easily transported from place to place.
- Advantages: – External hard drives have a high capacity storage ranging from 120 GB to 2 TB. Secondly, they are highly portable as most new-generation hard drives are fairly lightweight and can be easily carried in hard-drive cases and small carry bags. These are highly used as backup storage option as it works on plug and play basis.
- Issues: – External drives won't match the performance of an internal disk drive. While ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) drives today all support high speed DMA (Direct Memory Access) transfers, external drives drives generally do not. Also, as external hard drive is moved a lot, so there is chance of it getting damaged.