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Data backup: what to consider and what care should I take

There is a consensus: much of our lives are digitized. Be it personal photos and documents, communication, college or work files. A common practice in our daily lives, as well as this report published on an internet address, whose backup (or backup) was performed minutes ago in case incidents occur.

If today is something normal, to think about a few decades ago, the data of these memories — so easy to record with a cell phone camera in the past — simply does not exist. Probably the millennial generation, typically defined as people born from 1981 to 1996, were the last to experience childhood that is not in the cloud but trapped in analog formats. Handwritten personal diaries, camera-filmed photos and videos recorded on reels of VHS tapes. With technology that turns everything into data, they, unlike digital formats, can be irretrievably lost over time.

These tangible and imperfect artifacts that degrade over the years, despite not being completely extinct, have been reduced to groups of nostalgics or those who shy away from the idea of ​​having their personal data stored “for free” and forever on a date. center of a big tech company.

Although 30% of people have never made a backup in their lives, according to 2021 data from Backblaze — State of Backups, the reason may go beyond these choices mentioned above. From excessive reliance on devices, storage cost, data protection, process complexity among others. Unlike a corporate scenario, in which there is no room for choice when it comes to keeping multiple backup copies of the company’s data — preferably very well stored and with teams trained to take care of the survival of the company itself.

The importance of a backup in these situations is unquestionable, however, part of the process of saving copies of important tasks or files requires essential care. The same goes for the end user, who wants to keep personal memories and documents securely and with a minimum of privacy.

care

Just as necessary as making a backup copy is to consider where this data will be stored and how it will be stored. In the case of companies, for example, it is not uncommon to find those that make excessive backups without even testing them, consuming several terabytes and paying for it, exemplifies the senior data engineer in Singapore Eric Lopes. “Also, there are those who end up copying corrupt files,” he notes.

In 2014, the CTO of Cambridge Semantics, an enterprise analytics and data management software company, had described this practice in a PwC study. “We see customers creating big data cemeteries, dumping everything into the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and hoping to do something with it along the way. But then they just lose track of what’s there. The main challenge is not to create a data lake, but to take advantage of the opportunities it presents”.

In addition to the expenses involved in this practice of “saving as much as possible with minimal effort”, which the type of information storage implementation above proposes, there are other precautions to be analyzed, such as recovering this data stored in the cloud when necessary, taking into account time and how practical this restoration is, adds Douglas Esteves, from Unicamp’s Computer Center.

Another essential concern raised by Lopes is the attention to the legislation of each country. This is because there are considerable changes in data protection laws according to the location, for example, the period stipulated by the regulations for storing the types of data processed by the company.

As for end users, the same precautions apply, but with some adjustments. Encrypting the backup data is a fundamental step that should not be neglected, according to the data engineer. Photos, personal documents and files that are not available on the network should be given the layer of protection, even under third-party security guarantees.

The configuration of this service to be used — to avoid undue exposure — and reading the terms of use, although exhaustive, are also basic even before making the first backup.

Cloud services or offline storage

One of the first arguments that dictate the choice of the backup storage form over the other is cost. When comparing a cloud service or cloud storage from a big tech company with the maintenance of physical servers for the same purpose, many companies end up seduced by the cloud economy. According to Esteves, institutions that still insist on hybrid strategies (cloud backup and local data center), saved under the legacy argument, may end up migrating to the cheaper option as a matter of trend.

Image: Unsplash

However, as it is an online storage, connected to the internet, it is necessary to consider that there are differences when it comes to complexity and permission, therefore involving data security. According to the interviewees, they are unanimous in pointing out that local infrastructures have stricter and hierarchical permissions than a cloud service, whose unauthorized access is more common than one might imagine.

Data backup: what to consider and what care should I take

Photo: Nothing Ahead/Pexels

The choice between a cloud service and backup on hard disks, in the case of users, will depend on the particularity and needs of each one. While backups on hard drives can be corrupted due to common human errors and be affected by the life of these devices without an extended warranty, the cloud service may not offer practicality and speed of access to the copies expected by the user.

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