History of World Backup Day

World Backup DayHISTORY OF WORLD BACKUP DAY

There isn’t much history, as the first celebration of this geek holiday was in 2011. World Backup Day is barely a decade old.

But the need is real, now more than ever, especially in light of this salient fact: April Fools’ Day. March 31, the day before, is an excellent time to check your backups. On the eve of the day, famous for pranks, this might be your last chance.

You may have learned at the University of Hard Knocks that it’s not a question of “if” you’ll lose your data but “when.” Having a redundant copy of it can make all the difference, and you may be able to skip the course at U of H.K. on Pulling Your Hair Out.

 

Statistics:

According to worldbackupday.com and other sources:

  • 83% own a computer
  • 89% own a mobile phone

The bad news is:

  • 25% do regular backups
  • 60M computers will fail this year

And:

  • 21% of people have never backed up
  • 30% of all computers are currently infected with malware
  • 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute, or 200,000 per year
  • 29% of data loss is due to human error… or cockpit error, or that space between the seat back and the keyboard.
  • 1 in 10 computers is infected with viruses each month

That does not even count the rise of ransomware incidences, which can immobilize consumers and paralyze businesses. A few years ago, the city of Atlanta was held hostage by cyberattackers for $51,000 in Bitcoin. Residents could not pay bills or switch on water services online, and the municipal courts were closed. Sixteen hospitals in the U.K. canceled appointments and non-essential surgeries due to a ransomware attack.

World Backup Day

Now, your friendly neighborhood historian is all about redundancy, all about redundancy – and he’s happy to tell you this over and over again, many times in a repetitive fashion. But then, in a previous role, he was the Product Marketing Manager for Backup Software. When he gets a new computer, the first thing he does is set up the backup routine.

 

How to Backup

There are essentially three ways you can protect your computer, laptop, or smartphone data – whether it’s via syncing, copying, or backing up…

 

1. Removable media

You can backup to tape (how 20th century), optical (how last millennium), thumb drive, or memory card. Often, while the capacity may be limited compared to other technologies, this method has the advantage of being mobile. You can take it with you or offsite against the threat of disaster.

  • Pros: cheap, portable
  • Cons: slow, limited capacity, losable

 

2. Hard disk media

You can backup or sync to either a local hard drive or even a solid-state drive (SSD), which is often faster than removable media and offers greater capacity. It can be automated via backup software or even system software like Apple’s TimeMachine or Windows’s Backup and Restore Center. However, unless it’s a mini-drive, it’s probably permanently attached to your computer and rarely taken offsite. So you’ve got protection but not disaster recovery capabilities.

  • Pros: faster, greater capacity
  • Cons: more expensive, local

 

3. Cloud backup

Cloud computing is a popular trend that I write about elsewhere. Backup as a Service (BaaS, a subset of Data Protection as a Service) is an increasingly easy and effortless way to do a backup. Using consumer services like iDrive, Acronis, or Carbonite, you can send your data across the Internet to a Data Center, storing your information in their storage arrays.

Good news: there are relatively inexpensive monthly or annual subscriptions for the service, and you don’t have to buy any hardware.

Bad news: it can take days or weeks to initially back up all your data into the “cloud,” but after that, only incremental changes are uploaded.

But the big difference here is that your data is offsite if there is a disaster at your office or home. You can recover it over the Internet—which could take a long time—or some services will ship you a hard drive, SSD, or DVD with your data for an additional fee.

  • Pros: set it and forget it, amortized subscription pricing, offsite
  • Cons: slow initial backup, slow restore, may offer limited free capacity (Example: iCloud, iDrive), the policy may change. Example: CrashPlan no longer provides a consumer product. Mozy Backup from Berkeley Data Systems, once owned by EMC (now Dell) and then Carbonite, has been shut down.

Which is the best? A combination of more than one of these is a Best Practice. One study shows that 54% of those who do a backup have only one backup, and 45% of business data users have more than two copies. I do all three: local, removable media, local hard drive, and cloud backup. For cloud backups, I use three different companies’ backups on different parts of my data.

 

One more thing

As thieves become more interested in stealing your data than your hardware, you should consider encrypting your data at your backup target location. Several online services offer this feature: consider both an encrypted network (data in flight), sometimes called “end-to-end encryption” or “in transit & on the server,” as well as encryption on the target media. Apple’s iCloud provided this, though U.S. security agencies have objected to this kind of encryption, saying it prevents them from doing their criminal investigation.

Encryption is not just for cloud backups; if you back up to local “disk” media, either spinning disks or solid-state drives, find a way to encrypt the data on the media.

 

World Backup Day

 

One last thing

It’s even more important to test that backup to see if you can successfully recover your data from the backup. I use all three methods: different media and different locations. It’s always good to have one backup offsite. Redundancy of data is essential.

And this article will be posted on my blog, newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Pinterest, Mastodon, Tumblr, Bluesky, Threads, and Instagram.

 

The real test, though, is this: have you celebrated a successful World Data Recovery Day?

 

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
billpetro.com

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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

2 Comments

  1. RJ Hoff on April 1, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Bill, I’d say your post has it pretty well, er, backed up. I hadn’t picked up on the April Fools’ Day connection…

    Are there any other IT related “holidays” that you are aware of?

    Thanks.

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