Backing Up Still Critical
With the advent of super hard drives with 10 plus gigabyte capacity, we no longer need to purge files for additional file space. However, this tremendous capacity may also give rise to sloppy back-up procedures.
As our dependency on PCs increases, businesses need to develop consistent procedures for backing up their files, archiving important information and applications, and keeping work-in-progress in temporary storage. The technical method used for backing up hard drives is no longer a huge budget concern with so many low-cost alternatives available. What is important is that management establishes affordable and workable policies that guarantee that critical data is saved on a regular basis and can be recaptured when and if required.
Choosing the Right Back-up System
With the myriad of back-up hardware and media available, the owner/manager needs to carefully consider which is the most reliable and cost-effective system for the business' particular needs.
The most inexpensive means for maintaining back-up disks is the 3.5-inch floppy disk. It is reliable but as each disk has only a 2.0 mg density, several disks need to be used to back-up large files.
Making the transition from the 3.5 to the super disk that holds 120 MB is a cakewalk. As the super disk drive accepts both the standard 3.5 and the 120 MB, it is not necessary to purchase both. The super disk drive is available in both internal and external modes at a cost of about $180. The cost of one disk, approximately $25, may give pause for thought since backing up a 6.4 GB drive would require between 40 and 50 super disks in a non-compressed mode. On the other hand, since most hard drives are not "filled to the max," a business should be able to start with 10 super disks to lessen the initial expense.
The advantage of a ZIP drive is that it can be either an internal or external back-up unit and it uses the popular SCSI/EIDE internal interface. A disk capable of storing 100 MB costs $20, while the hardware costs approximately $200. If your business has a number of stand-alone computers, consider an external parallel hook-up.
All that Jazz
One of the newer high capacity storage devices on the market is called JAZZ. A single disk will store an amazing 2 GB of information. While the disks are expensive, approximately $180 each, for the same capacity, you would require 20 ZIP drive disks.
Data can be saved on CD format on a write-once CD-R (read only), which costs about $3 and stores about 650 MB of data. However, since these are write-once disks, they are not suitable for daily back-up but could be used for long-term archiving. Alternatively, the CD-RW (read-write), also with a 650 MB capacity, can be readily used for daily back-up. As its name suggests, a CD-RW disk can be erased and re-written, the same way a floppy disk can be erased or re-formatted. Each CD-RW has a 650 MB storage capacity and costs approximately $30. The hardware is rapidly decreasing in price to $300 or less.
Want to replace 10,000 floppy disks, 150 ZIP disks, 23 CD-RW or CD-R disks, or 15 JAZZ disks with one disk? DVD-ROM (Digital Versatile Disk, Read Only Memory) technology is similar to CD-ROM technology, but offers much higher capacity. This technology has its roots in DVD Video, much like CD-ROM disks are similar to CD audio disks. Unlike CD-ROM, the DVD-ROM disk can be double-sided and even hold up to two information layers per side. The external unit is a parallel port type costing about $500 and $50 per single cartridge. The operating software permits 'drag and drop' storage. This back-up system requires a minimum of 32 MB of RAM and 50 MB of hard drive.
Label and Store Back-Ups Carefully
Make sure back-up disks are consistently and clearly labelled and the source and date noted. Consider appointing one person to develop and maintain back-up protocols. Some of this individual's responsibilities could include:
• managing the library of all off-site back-up disks
• assigning a number/coding to each disk that corresponds to the hard copy file
• recording the number of back-up disks in the series, the operating platforms (e.g., DOS, Macintosh, Windows, etc.), the version and the PC (e.g., 286, 486, Pentium)
• listing all directories, sub-directories and categories, and
• indexing files with a more fulsome description than the alpha/numeric file name (for example, the file name 'profdev1.doc' is likely only meaningful to the person who created it).
Regardless of what means a business uses to back up, the investment in equipment and time is a true moneysaver. Even if you only use your back-up data and programs to recover from just one disruption, the labour and cost savings could be significant.