How to backup computer data

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At OE Classic we care a great deal to keep our data safe, but we also care to teach you of our best practices so you can learn from us. So with this short introduction, here is how we handle our data backup – an info you can use to do your own data backups.

First of all, we separate our data into critical and non-critical. Critical is something where we would quickly go out of business if it was lost. An example of such a thing is OE Classic source code. This is separated into special folder (with appropriate sub-folders). Everything else is non-critical. If non-critical data is lost, it can be found somewhere, purchased or rebuilt in a short time. These are mostly purchases we did. The separation keeps the amount of critical data to the minimum so it can be distributed easier to more backup locations which plays an important role.

Note that we probably overdo our backups a bit – but – hearing so many horror stories of data loss and companies going out of business as a result of that – we cannot afford to lose data. Better safe than sorry. So here goes.

Critical data backup

Critical data is saved to a few different online cloud backup locations. Locations like – Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Mega. Each of these cloud providers stores data in various data centers, located around the entire planet. This ensures data is located around the world. What we use this for is critical data such as OE Classic source code and other files very difficult to produce. The data is not left in plain-sight, it is always encrypted using heavy encryption and the key-code is always kept in an offline location with backup of the key-code in QR code format and plain-text on paper as well as in our smartphones. The location of all these servers is not always known to us but we do know that they are in various locations within the USA, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

One of the most important aspects of a good backup is to have it in various locations and cloud made this extremely easy – if disaster happens in one location, it won’t happen in all. When I am talking about a disaster I think of – malware, hard disk failure, system being compromised by malicious attacker, as well as natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, solar flares causing EMP, floods, fires and so on.

As I already mentioned, the data is encrypted with our own strong encryption code. As it used to happen before the data from various cloud providers has been compromised, even if they used encryption. Leaving the data in the open is therefore not a good idea for cloud backup. If cloud storage provider is compromised – our data is safely encrypted and the attacker cannot do a thing with it except look at bunch of useless encrypted code which would take thousands of years to decrypt with the brute-force techniques and the given key-code length.

Local backup

Locally, we store data on backup hard drives. This is for critical and non-critical data. For this we use 2 small and light 2.5″ USB 3.0 hard disks. They are tiny, easy to carry around and thanks to USB 3.0 quick to do a backup. They are also very affordable and if one breaks it can easily be replaced. These two disks are kept at two different locations, one in the office and another away from the office at another location. If earthquake, flood, fire or anything of that kind strikes, at least one local copy should remain safe. Disks are filled and when filled – their location is swapped.

Server data backup

Our servers do automatic backup in a RAID array as well as regular automated backup of user database and we also do occasional update to our local/critical backup of server database. So we safeguard user data too, having in mind the purchase price means investment into our software or services.

DVD backup

Additionally, we keep a copy on DVD disks too, again encrypted for easily discarding the disks later when they are out of date. Optical media can survive EMP blast (coming from a nuclear attack or much more likely – solar flare), even if hard disks would not. And we’re thinking of making or purchasing a cheap Faraday cage to keep our disks safe too. As it appears Faraday cages are quite easy to make, it can be just a simple box wrapped entirely in aluminum foil or a metal cookie jar, as long as the disk is isolated from the conductive material. There are also readily available anti-static bags to purchase. More than good enough for protection purposes. Optionally, it can be grounded (even though there will likely be minimal difference in protection of the disk inside).

Of course, a few of the methods described above are on the paranoid side. But then again, if they are easy or practical to implement – why not – it is usually just a small change of habit.

Now when you’ve learned how we do backups at apply it to your own backups to keep your data safe!

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Phazze (Zvonko Tesic) is entrepreneur, programmer, music producer and blogger.

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