Before you choose a backup solution, you need to examine your needs. First, you'll need to determine how much data you have to back up and how frequently you need to update it. If you already have a copy of your operating system and software files, you won't need to back those up. You'll most likely be backing up accounting software, databases, your documents and spreadsheets, and files on your central server or Web server if you have one.

You'll want to make sure that you choose a storage solution that can handle your current data plus leave room for growth.

If you need to back up only a few important files, then you don't need tape drives or redundant hardware solutions. You can choose between an Internet backup service or smaller-capacity media, such as a CD-RW or DVD-RAM. Your choice will depend on the amount of data you have and whether you have the in-house expertise and time to invest in installing a hardware drive.

If you have many files to back up or need to back up several machines on a network, then only a tape drive and backup software will provide you with the storage capacity and scheduling features you require. When choosing a tape drive technology, make sure that you find one that has the capacity and speed to do daily backups overnight and on one tape. You may want to consider keeping several backup versions at any one time, because sometimes there is a time delay before you detect a data corruption problem. You don't want to discover corrupted files after you've already backed up over the copy of the precorrupted version, leaving you with no clean version of the uncorrupted data.

If you have a mission-critical server, then you'll have to consider redundant hardware, such as RAID, and combine it with a tape backup solution.

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Published on: Apr 24, 2000