Saturday, 22 January 2011

Backing up archive data. To DVD or not to DVD?

When talking to Kate Holmes, of Kara Rose PR, yesterday we discussed archiving some of their older data to DVD. This is data they need to keep for posterity, but which isn't required every day, or even once a year.

Although the computer is backed up every day, it seems to make sense to free up some space on the hard drive and to store such old data somewhere safe.

This raises a number of issues, namely:

1. Why move the data from the computer at all? Provided that your hard drive has at least 20% free space then the amount of data stored on there doesn't make any difference. The computer's hard drive is the safest place for the data, (provided it is also backed up elsewhere, of course.)

If the computer hard drive is getting full then a secondary drive could be added to the computer, (so long as it's a Desktop PC, not a laptop), simply to store such archived data.

2. The next best option for archiving is an external hard drive - which could be stored off-site once the data had been moved across. Such external Hard Drives generally connect through a simple USB cable or network cable and appear as another drive in My Computer.

This makes copying data across extremely simple, and also easily allows such data to be copied to yet another computer elsewhere.

3. DVD storage appears to be an easy option but,
a) It is time consuming to copy the data to DVD, and to mark each DVD;
b) A DVD will only hold about 4GB of data, so each client's info may span a few DVDs;
c) It is difficult to add data to individual DVDs.

However, the most important reason not to use DVDs is that they are not very robust. They cost a few pence each, but that is mainly because they are mass-produced so cheaply. This also leaves them liable to failure.

If you leave a DVD anywhere warm for any length of time it will degrade and become unusable. The same is true if it is left on top of the PC or monitor. And what happens when Little Johnny needs to record Toy Story 3? He may use the closest DVd available!

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© Michael Donkin 2011