Backups backups backups.  Sounds so simple, and yet it’s something in IT that can go sideways and not be noticed until things have gone really wrong and you need them most.  There are a number of different options that will be covered in the next post, but first let’s cover some of the factors to consider.


First, ideally there are “versions” of backed up files so you can recover a mistake made some time in the past that you didn’t notice til just now.  Also, if a drive is failing and files get corrupt, backups will back up the corrupt files so that you may need to go to an older version to get a decent recovery.  Time Machine keeps versions as does the Windows 10 File History tool.

Onsite Offsite

You have backups setup onsite, and a theft happens or a pipe bursts.  You have backups offsite, but restoring gigs and gigs of data are constrained by bandwidth when you are trying to do a restore and your hair is on fire, or you find out the hard way that the offsite backup software has stopped working and no one let you know.  Cutting to the chase, there is an argument to have on site and offsite backups, where redundancy is your friend.

Keep security in mind when thinking about your backup strategy.  If you are backing up to a removable drive (usb drive, flash drive) that you take offsite, you may well want to encrypt the device in case you lose control of it.  Any online backup option these days uses an encrypted tunnel, but something to make sure of before starting to pay.  And not all on line backups encrypt data “at rest”, meaning the data is encrypted in transport but not where it is stored in the cloud.  Encryption at rest helps mitigate the risk of your backup data getting into the hands of bad actors at the backup company or some other breach.  As stated in our ransomware post, backups are a key defense (not a guarantee, but a key defense) against ransomeware and other kinds of malware.
Space & Cost

Lost data….upset?  If asked, many people might surprise you, and say “no big deal” or “there are a couple of files I really need”.  Others might say they need full backups.  The amount of data you want to backup will have a bearing on cost (size of local backup devices or online how much you need to pay a month).

Monitor & Restore

The last thing anyone needs is to find their backups aren’t working when their hair is on fire.  There are various ways to manage this, including having some sort of email or message sent to you showing the results of the last backup (how this is done varies by tool), but there is no substitute for checking the backups by hand periodically and doing at least a small restore.  Again, with tools like Time Machine, File History, iCloud or Carbonite, this is easy to do.