Choosing Storage Media for Data Backup

After you have analyzed data that you want to back up and split it into several blocks, it is important to decide which backup storage media or servers can serve you the best. There are three main characteristics to think of: size, security and accessibility.

Size of Data Backup

While storage media are commonly chosen of the same size or of larger capacity than it is needed for backups, it’s not a strict rule. For instance, buying a 250GB hard drive to store backup of your music library is very much a waste of money, since several DVD discs can be as effective and cost much less. And vice versa, storing a complete disk image backup on dozens of removable media is also not a good idea, as restoration of backup will take a lot of time and efforts. In practice, in each concrete case it is advised to find a balance between media’s capacity and other factors (see below).

Data Security & Accessibility

Different storage media provide different levels of safety. One of the most important things to be taken into account here is the source of damage that you want to save your data from. For protection from local disasters, such as fires, floods, theft, etc. it’s a good practice to copy backup to offsite location (e.g. back up to FTP). Optical discs are very effective to store backups of files that you access rarely (especially powerful when you back up to Blu-ray or DVD). For the data that needs to be instantly restored in case of some error or user mistake, it’s wise to backup to an external hard drive, or even keep a local backup copy of data.

Over time, people have developed of a number of methods that allow you to balance data retention with cost of storage media. Learn more about backup rotation schedules.

Depending on your security policies, you may want to back up your data to a place where it can be accessed by the least amount of people. Encrypting your backups and avoiding local backup storage, e.g. transferring them to a secure password-protected server can work very well. At the same time, it is always better to keep most valuable data in a state where it can be quickly recovered, to minimize potential losses. This makes remote servers less attractive, as you have to rely on their availability, data transfer speed and other parameters.

After all, when talking about backup, the primary focus should be based on the effectiveness, not on expenses. The next thing you need to determine is type of backup, i.e. how the files will be processed.

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