For many of us, the data stored on our computers practically defines our lives. As an inventor, computer scientist, software developer, photographer, technical writer and fiction author, the data and information that I produce is extremely valuable to me and to my livelihood. As I have started reducing paper financial records while migrating to electronic records, my data becomes even more important to me personally.
So where do I have all my data stored? Well, given that I have 20+ computers—so yes, I do rank in terms of geekdom—I actually have a networked storage system that provides me all my storage needs, but not my critical backup or disaster tolerance (DT) needs. Online backup services like Apple’s iCloud, Mozy, Carbonite, and others are good investments for protecting your increasingly valuable data.
While I didn’t personally experience the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, living and working in California’s Silicon Valley forces us to always be prepared for a disaster, for this is earthquake country. For us, it’s not a question of whether an earthquake will happen, it’s when and how bad this time. It’s a reality that we live with on a daily basis. Planning for a disaster that I know will happen eventually informs my entire strategy for protecting my data.
Three Levels of Data
The data that I have on my personal storage devices are classified into three types from a DT standpoint: must have, nice to have, and other.
Must-have data is all the data and information I produce that supports me and my family. This includes photos, patent information; financial, investment, and insurance information; birth and marriage certificates; writing projects and notes; software that I have developed; and other records that are not readily reproducible, etc. Anything I feel is valuable and that I need and cannot do without is must-have data.
Nice-to-have data is just that—nice to have. If it is destroyed, it might be missed, but I can live without it. Other data includes data and information that I can recreate and that will not be missed.
Three Levels of Back-up Storage
All my data is backed up daily and written to tape on my networked storage system. The tapes are stored offsite weekly. For most computer users, this is actually rather extreme, but then most computer users don’t operate what is, in fact, a small data center.
I take things a step further for my must-have data. It’s all copied to DVDs and stored quarterly in a safe deposit box at a local bank.
Last, all my must-have and nice-to-have data are also uploaded automatically and daily to two cloud storage services: iCloud and Mozy. The monthly cost to store this data is very inexpensive, and I have had occasion to actually recover data from both iCloud and Mozy while traveling on business.
In the past I have had colleagues who lost complete manuscripts and other valuable data in fires, floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. They simply didn’t protect what was on their hard drives, taking for granted that it would always just be there. If data has value to you, protect it like you would anything else that’s irreplaceable.
Image: Apple iCloud [Wikipedia]