What is a Data Backup?

safe data

I hate backups.  I’m not sure about everyone else, but my online security service is always whining about backing up all my important data files.  An annoying message window shows up on my desktop almost every day saying that my security is compromised because my backup has not been completed recently!  What are data backups anyway? Why is my computer so persistent about them?  It seems like all they do is make trouble for the average, innocent computer owner.

Types of Backups

According to a global backup survey done by Kabooza, in 2008, 13% of people do not even know what a backup is.  The American Heritage Dictionary defines a backup (as it relates to computer science) as “a copy of a program or file that is stored separately from the original: a reserve or substitute.”  Data backups are used to protect sensitive, personal, or important computer files.  Essentially a backup is any form of file copying and storage.  Though many different ways of backing up files exist, they usually fall into one of two broad categories: physical backups and internet storage.

Physical Backups

Files can be backed up on a variety of physical mediums.  They can be copied to external hard drives, CDs or DVDs, and flash drives.  In a former age, floppy disks were used for backups as well.  Flash drives, also known as thumb drives, are a handy way to back up home computers.  They are easy to use, easily accessible, and affordable.  Unfortunately, they have a very low memory capacity and are not as durable as some other methods.  DVDs are a better alternative for small businesses because they have twice the storage space.  Having a backup hard drive on hand is another option, although for personal use, it has a hefty price tag.

Internet Storage

Internet storage might not be quite as expense as buying an extra hard drive, but it is rarely free.  Backing up files on the net is essentially a disguised form of physical backup because the files are still saved to a server somewhere else.  Usually users contract a third party provider to backup their files on the provider’s website.  Internet backups upload copies of original data directly to the web so that whatever the customer’s location, he can still retrieve his data by downloading the information from a secure website.  The online method is relatively new and gaining in popularity.  Online storage sites of all kinds, not just backups, are thriving.  The ability to access data from anywhere is enticing, especially since the advent of the smart phone and the tablet.

Paper Backups

The process used to store electronic data is almost identical to the one used to secure real data.  Physical files need to be secured, just like virtual ones.  Data backups are preformed so that no important computer documents are lost to theft, natural disaster, or tampering.  Anything that can happen to a computer document can also happen to a real one.  Paper files are susceptible to fire, theft, destruction, and flooding.  Unfortunately, when physical files are destroyed, there is no downloading that can replace them.  Tarheel Imaging has a number of solutions to prevent the loss of important paper resources.  We can scan all of your documents and store them electronically so that you can retrieve them online.  We also specialize in document security.  If you want to rid yourself of the entire record inventory you carry, we can box up all your files, barcode them, and store them in our high security warehouse.  Tarheel Imaging recommends you back up all of your important computer files, but also advises not to forget about your physical ones.