Handling backups

23. June, 2022 4 min read Develop

Handling your private backups

We've all been told to create regular backups of our data. Be it through your friendly neighbourhood IT guy or ads on services like iCloud or Google Cloud.

What is a backup

Yeah, I’m starting with the basics here, as I’ve seen things 😱.

First, what is not a backup; A NAS with a raid configuration of one, two or more disc failures is not a backup. For sure, it is nice to know that your data is not lost once a disk failure occurs, but a subsequent loss during a rebuild is widespread, and then all your information is lost.

Also, a service that promises to keep your data safe may not be the right choice, as the company behind it can go bankrupt, be bought or resells your information…

Well, what is a backup then?!?

So what do I consider a legitimate backup that can save your data and sometimes your neck? For me, the following three principles need to apply:

  • One backup is none; two backups are one.
  • A backup doesn’t work if you can’t restore it.
  • Offline is better than online.

One backup is none; two backups are one

I learned early on that having a backup doesn’t ensure you can’t lose your data. A backup drive wears down as you regularly keep updates and may fail you in an emergency case.

For this reason, computer scientists speak of “one backup is none, two backups are one”, and so forth. You should ideally back up your regular data on one drive (as you probably already do) and then either backup the backup drive or store it on an online service to create one valid backup.

You do not need to create a backup of a backup drive as often as your computer or mobile devices. Once a month or so is a good start, depending on how important the data is to you. You can also easily automate that process 🥇.

A backup doesn’t work if you can’t restore it

Creating one or two backups is excellent, but have you ever tried to restore one in a non-emergency case? It doesn’t help if you have a superb backup strategy or disaster recovery plan if you’ve never run a test run.

Make sure to test that you can restore your backups regularly. I usually do this every half a year or yearly, depending on the backup type.

For example, I backup my Plex VM about every month or so to a physical drive outside the Raid. The backup itself is not super important to me, as I can manually restore playlists, custom covers and settings, but it’s still a hassle.

So I do yearly tests where I deactivate the Plex VM and spin it up again through a backup. After a while, I use the backup as my new replacement and delete the old one to ensure everything works as expected. If not, I will fix it to make sure it won’t happen again in the future.

Offline is better than online

You may have heard about the many security breaches in the past with various services and backup solutions. So be careful with online backup solutions.

Apple or Google provide simple solutions for everyone to restore their devices or photos, but you don’t necessarily know what they do with your data. Primarily, Google is known for analysing your images and using the data to improve its services. But we do not see what happens in the background ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

As such, always ensure your backups are encrypted and enable all the available protection. That also applies to offline backups such as your physical external hard drive. Ensure someone can’t easily steal it and then access your data.

It is also a good idea to keep backups in different locations. That guarantees a backup is still available even after a physical incident.

That is it

Backups are great, keep your data secure and safe, and you’ll spare yourself a lot of hassle. No one wants to lose their precious memories or documents 🤣.

‘Till next time!