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Data Backups

Type: general threat recovery security

Backups of data are practised by almost all individuals and companies these days, however the methods of data backups vary and some are considerably more secure than others. For example a simple manual copy of files and folders being created and stored locally is not a particularly consistent or reliable method of backing up data. This is because the backup is regularly out of date as it is not automatically kept up to date; also storing a backup locally is not advisable as it is vulnerable to many of the same threats that face the original data. Threats such as fire and theft can threaten a locally stored data backup and it can often result in easier theft as there are 2 copies of the data for thieves to attempt to steal.

Improved methods of data backup can be found in RAID technology where data backups can be reliably and automatically made using multiple hard drives. There are many versions of RAID, the most useful and common backup versions are RAID 1 and RAID 5. RAID 1 is simply using 2 or more hard disk drives to create multiple copies of the data on each hard disk drive, the advantage of this is that an exact and replaceable copy of the data is made and this means all but one of the hard drives can fail and the data is still maintained. The disadvantage of RAID 1 is that it is an inefficient use of data storage space, although there is a valid argument that the low price of hard disk drives when compared to the cost of data makes this issue irrelevant. RAID 5 works by using multiple hard disk drives to backup a part of each disk on all the other disks, the result is a more efficient data store that can tolerate one of the disk drives failing without suffering data loss. It is important to note that RAID 0 must not be used as a method of data backup as it is designed to improve performance only and does not tolerate hard disk failure.

A simple and cheap alternative to RAID is using software that can be used to automatically create a copy of data from a file, folder or whole hard disk. There are many different types of backup software, many require purchasing but there are many that are freeware. There are many different freeware backup applications available but GoodSync was found to have a variety of features, was reliable and easy to use. As the name suggests GoodSync is actually designed to synchronise storage areas, however GoodSync can be configured to make backups which are essentially one-way synchronisation. GoodSync can backup files and folders onto a local, network or Internet location, this essentially makes Remote and frequent backups very easy to accomplish. Unfortunately the free version of GoodSync is limited to a maximum of 3 jobs and 100 files/folders per job, however the pro version is cheap and unlimited.


Remote storage of data backups is crucial in preventing backups from becoming vulnerable to many of the threats that face the original data. By storing data remotely it is removed from many of the risks that face the original data and thereby becomes more secure and reliable. There are two basic methods of remote data storage; the first is to simply remove the backup hard drive or data storage device away from the premises e.g. stored in a safe. The second is to use Internet data storage service, this service usually comes at a relatively low price and can reduce the effort and expense of creating and storing backups manually. Many services offer software that automatically and transparently backs up data onto a remote data store on the Internet, the data is sent and stored using secure encryption techniques such as 128bit SSL encryption for transport of data and 256bit+ military grade encryption for storage. In short data is extremely safe and regularly backed up. An example of an online data storage companies is Mozy or Filesanywhere.

Systems and hardware malfunction is one of the most common causes of a serious security incident, but by implementing reliable and automated backup techniques there is little chance of losing critical data. Backups are a critical part of security incident recovery and without any form of reliable backup a company risks irreversible damage to critical data and ultimately the company itself.