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BITS & BYTES: How Are You Backing Up Your Data?

By Staff | Dec 8, 2010

You’re ending your day, closing computer files and applications, and have made a to do list for tomorrow, finalizing the process by placing your computer into standby for the night. The next morning, you open your computer or press the power button, only to find that nothing happens or a cryptic error is displayed on the screen.

Noting your observations, you call your service provider who informs you that your computer is non-functional and possibly the information thought to be saved is now gone. No worries, planning to use your backup disks, you place the first disk into your second computer and start the copy process.

A minute or two into the process, the copy stops with your second cryptic error message for the day, this time indicating something about unreadable files. You again dial your service provider only to be notified that your backups have degraded and are now more than likely unusable.

As you hang up the phone, your anxiety starts to build and you feel acid in your stomach as you realize that the results of all of your work are now gone, forever.

This scenario happens much too frequently.

There are four major storage technologies today: magnetic, solid state, optical and magneto-optical. These technologies are used to create the plethora of available storage products.

Products based on magnetic (hard disks, Zip disks, floppy disks, and similar disks) and solid state (USB flash storage, camera cards, and similar devices) technology are suited for temporary storage or distribution, as are some optical products, such as CD-R/RW, DVD+/- R/RW . Generally data loss happens as a result of using these products as your backup medium. As none of these media are designed for longevity or data backup, they fail easily, inconsistently and quickly, and should be firmly avoided for backup and data reliability.

Magneto-optical and some optical technology products are well suited for backup storage, since they prioritize on dependability and media longevity. This is referred to as “archival” storage. There are two optical storage products that are archival: DVD-RAM, which comes with most computers today, and UDO. These are rewritable optical based products that are designed to keep your data safe for many years while the media stays resistant to heat, moisture, scratches, warping, oxidation, etc.

The final technology, magneto-optical, is the most advanced of all storage technologies and was specifically developed to enable the development of archival storage products. All products that use magneto-optical technology provide the most durable, compatible, and easy to use backup solution available. Using DVD-RAM, UDO or any magneto-optical based drive as your backup system will minimize, if not eliminate, the chance of data loss.

The decay and data loss described above will not happen if archival storage is used.

(Bits & Bytes is a computer troubleshooting advice column provided by Zebis, a single point of contact managed service provider located on Sanibel serving clients worldwide.)