Nearly every profession requires computer support in one form or another. Businesses run via computer networks, and if the network goes down, so does the business’s functionality. Whether the business is small or large, professionals are high volume computer users. Reliable alternative and additive storage methods to back up usage prevents the loss of critical data should the network fail.
Ensuring a network does not crash is one critical component of an Information Technology professional’s career; ensuring the data is adequately backed up in the event of a crash is another.
Network Server Backup
If a business network is particularly large, supporting hundreds of computers or high-resolution data, backing the data up daily to a separate network server is a viable alternative storage solution.
Network servers can store several terabytes worth of information. To place into perspective how much data terabytes can store, consider this:
- One terabyte equals 1024 gigabytes.
- As of 2013, the average computer is factory equipped with 500-gigabyte hard drives.
- The U.S. Library of Congress adds approximately 5 terabytes of data monthly to an already 235-terabyte database.
- CD quality audio downloads produce 2,000 hours of music via 1 terabyte of data.
- IBM’s Jeopardy contestant, “Watson,” housed 16 terabytes of trivia when it competed on the game show in 2011.
A network server designated solely for backing up data is an ideal alternative storage method for computer users needing multi-terabyte capacity.
Examples of high volume data include any multimedia programming, such as graphic art, visual art, architecture drafting and design, 2D/3D animation, gaming design, and high-end audio or video files.
Businesses that house large amounts of scanned data, such as legal, medical, or human resource files, likely have a need for the multi-terabyte storage that network servers can provide.
External Hard Drive Backup
An external hard drive backup is an additive storage method where the user connects either a separate external hard drive or “flash” drive via the computer’s USB port.
- An external hard drive can store up to 3 terabytes of data singularly, and 4 terabytes via a shared connection between two 2-terabyte drives.
- The average size of an external hard drive is 1 inch by 4 inches by 5 inches.
- A USB flash drive can back up 1 terabyte of data.
- A 2-terabyte USB flash drive is in the works, but this storage capacity has not been introduced to consumers at this time.
An external hard drive back up system works well for the self-employed or a small business network that does not require extremely high amounts of terabyte data storage. The back-ups can be performed automatically or manually at any time, and the external back-up source can travel with the user.
Cloud storage is a relatively new alternative storage technology. Cloud servers are “outside” servers, meaning these are large capacity servers housed and maintained by a third party.
For example, movies streamed through an entertainment service provider are stored on cloud servers.
- Cloud storage service is rented by the user for a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee.
- The more data storage capacity the user needs, the higher the monthly, quarterly, or annual fee will be.
- Data is backed up at scheduled intervals directly onto the cloud server via a secured encrypted transmission from the user’s computer or computer network to the cloud server.
- Data stored on the cloud server is encrypted as well to ensure file security.
The most recent backed up data can be recovered from the external cloud service, should the user experience a computer or computer network failure.
Housing the data externally on a cloud server provides an added layer of protection in the event of a network-wide failure, as the data is backed up on a hard drive not directly linked to the user’s computer network.
The optimal alternative or additive storage method ultimately depends on the high volume computer user’s individual needs.
How much data on average the user stores, the type of data the user stores, and the number of users on the computer network must all be included when considering back-up storage methods.
Other considerations include estimating future data storage needs and whether additional users will be added to any computer network. It is better to over-estimate date storage needs than to underestimate them, as additional storage will cost more money down the line.
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