By Todd Brous, April 29th, 2017
Backups and Archives are two separate, yet critically important, tasks that are often mixed together. A "Data Backup" is a copy for "operational or disaster recovery". In other words it is a "Safety Net" in case of a systems failure.
A "Data Archive" is used when a project has completed, and needs to be removed from a system in order to make room for the next project. I like to think of an archive as a photograph or “snapshot” of everything at a specific moment in time. The Data Archive is then packed away, labeled, and stored for the long term.
In general, whether it is for a Backup or Archive, I suggest making multiple copies of your data and, if possible, onto multiple media types. In other words, make at least TWO copies of your data. Also, the "active" version of your data DOES NOT COUNT. Seriously.
Systems will fail, and if there is a problem with your backups, then there will be trouble. Dont be that guy. Make sure you have multiple backups. Make sure you have verified that the data on the backups is good, and that it can be properly retrieved.
Unfortunately, in practice, I rarely see people make two copies due to the time and costs. The good news is that using Bare Internal Hard Drives, a dual-drive dock duplicator, and Hudzee Cases helps our clients solve this problem by giving them the ability to easily make a Backup or Archive, and then duplicate the data to a second drive.
Using Hard Drives for project archiving has been in use for years. Many of our clients had used External Hard Drives to store completed projects, and keep them in a closet. This was expensive, disorganized, and a true nightmare when someone inevitably misplaced the proper power cable for the drive.
With an Internal Hard Drive, a Drive Dock, and a Hudzee case, our customers are able to save on average 50% on each backup. They no longer have to pay for the extra aluminum, power supplies, and cables for every Archive drive.
The best way to perform a data archive really depends on the specific needs of each person, but I believe that the easiest way is to use a Cloning Utility to do the work. Also, PLEASE, Please, please, make sure that the data has been VERIFIED. Also, please double check that you can restore your data.
Take a look at Acronis True Image. It is a paid application, it is really nice, and runs on MacOS and Windows. There is also Carbon Copy Cloner for MacOS, and Teracopy for Windows. These are just a few examples of utilities that can copy data and do a checksum to verify that the copy is a perfect duplication. Do not rely on a Click and Drag copy for Archiving purposes.
Some other suggestions:
When it comes to Enterprise Backups, many facilities use commercial software to run nightly backups on their servers. This is a much bigger topic, and in a Best Practice Scenario should utilize at least a secondary file server or some other form of systems redundancy. Downtime is not an option.
We have customers using Drives, Docks, and Hudzee Cases in an Incremental Backup pipeline that rotates drive sets offsite.
Below are some of the questions we will ask our business customers before we architect an appropriate backup and archiving solution for them.
On the consumer desktop side, Time Machine on MacOS, “makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months.” onto an external hard drive or onto an Apple Airport Time Capsule. (I do not suggest using a Dock/Drive/Hudzee for Time Machine. Buy an External drive.).
What is the cloud, anyway?
In short, the cloud is someone else’s computer. You pay them to store and maintain your data for you. There are lots of players in Cloud Backup: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Box, Dropbox, Crashplan, Backblaze, Acronis, Carbonite, Mozy, SugarSync, are but a few.
Why not just use the cloud?
Good question. Well, it gets a little complicated. How much data do you have? How fast is your Internet connection? Do you have any compliance issues that would prevent you from using the cloud? How fast is your Internet connection? (I asked that twice.)
Many of our Media & Entertainment (Post Production/VFX/Animation) clients have projects that are at least 5TB-10TB large for a TV commercial. Very few organizations have an Internet connection fast enough that would allow them to Backup or Archive a 5TB-10TB project in any reasonable amount of time. Take a duplicating Drive Dock, an appropriate capacity internal hard drive, a Hudzee, and an iMac or PC on a 10GigE Network, and you can make a redundant Archive overnight.
Sorry, folks. Tape is not dead yet (and this is coming from a person selling a Hard Drive backup solution). To be clear, I love tape backups. It is usually the first thing I suggest to our clients. It is affordable, stable, and easy. With a Tape Library and the appropriate software, it is possible to set and forget backups and archives with a minimal amount of human interaction.
LTFS! A File System for LTO Tapes. This is good. Simply, LTFS allows one to treat a tape drive the same way you would use a hard drive, and it makes them easier to use. In other words, the tape now has a standard format that the operating system can recognize, and the tape is now a fully accessible "volume". You can click and drag files to and from it. Keep in mind that this is still a Tape, and it is not Random Access media, so it take a lot of time to access files through the LTFS interface.
If you can, use the Cloud.
If you need long term storage, go with LTO.
If you need a versatile and inexpensive solution, that can be used with practically any type of internal hard drive, then go with a Dock, an Internal Drive, and a Hudzee.
Did I mention that we have multiple colors so you can categorize everything?