Is Your Backup Solution Sufficient?

January 13, 2015

 

As businesses store and create data, it becomes more and more likely to disappear.   Even more annoyingly, it seems that backup solutions that used to work fine, are not working so well any more.   While this is nothing new (remember Zip Drives?), it DOES mean that it's a good time to revisit your backup options and make sure that if you really need your data that you are protected as well as possible.

Local Backup

For a backup, it’s not a bad idea to have a local backup of your data. If you purchase a couple external hard drives, they can easily be set up to backup your data.   This is a good solution in case something happens to your main hard drive or if you accidentally royally mess up a document (provided you have it set up properly).  

The Perfect Storm of Disk Failure

We still recommend doing a remote/offsite backup of critical data to protect against the "perfect storm" of disk failure.   What is the perfect storm of disk failure?   Our chief engineer, David, explains it like this:

The unfortunate fact is, as drives get bigger, they are going to be more common. That is because 1 bit in 10^14 (100,000,000,000,000 – a 1 followed by 14 zero’s) is likely to have an Unrecoverable Read Error (URE)*. That may seem like a very large number, but when you realize that that is about 12.5 TB of data, you’ll understand that it means that 1 in 6 – 2 TB drives is going to fail in a way that some data cannot be read from it. Data can be written just fine, but reading from parts of the drive will not work. When you can’t read a portion of the data, that whole file thus cannot be read. If the file is a single Word document that cannot be read, it’s not such a huge deal. But if the file is part of a backup file, that’s a large portion of your data that is lost. Looking at buying a 3 TB drive? You just went from a 17% chance of having a URE to a 25% chance. And according to Murphy’s Law, if you do have a failure, the data that will be lost will be the most highly valuable data on the disk.

Offsite Backups

Having terrabytes of data is a lot different than the days where small groups of files were backed up on floppy disks.  That is why we highly recommend also doing an offsite backup. Many providers, including the one we partner with, not only use Enterprise level drives, but they also copy the data across many disks. If any one disk has an URE, there are others disks with the exact same data on it. The chances of all the disks having an URE in the same spot is astronomically high.

 

If you are concerned about losing your data, we would be happy to review your current setup and find out if you have what you need.   Please call us at 877.404.8224 to learn more!

 

*SATA (the common type of hard drives today) specifications state that an URE rate of 10^14 is an acceptable rate. Consumer grade drives will likely be very close to these specifications. Higher grade (Enterprise level) drives might have up to 1 in 10^16 bits (about 1250 TB) before seeing a URE.