Please keep in mind that none of these are necessarily Drake-recommended products, and that no one technology will be right for every office.
Pros: A wonderful backup tool, if you’re living in 1989
Pros: Affordable, with a long archival life
Cons: Clunky; backups can be unreliable
Compact and easy to store, tape drives write data to magnetic tapes similar to audio cassette tapes. In the past, their affordability and longevity made tape drives an ideal way to archive system files. Tape drives do have their drawbacks, though. Unlike hard drives that can quickly fetch data stored on different parts of the drive, you must rewind or forward the tape to find different files. As a result, finding and restoring individual files can take awhile. In addition, if you’re using a tape drive, it’s important to test the reliability of the backups regularly; as many as 15% of all tape backups fail, and anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of tape restores fail.
Pros: Cheap; easy to store
Cons: Slow; not ideal for system archives or long-term storage
When bought in bulk, single-write DVDs with 4.7 gigabytes of storage can be found for 20 cents a disk, and a small shoebox can hold hundreds of disks. While that seems like a good reason to use optical disks, be aware that the write process is slower than that of most hard drives, flash storage devices, and other options for data-file archiving. In addition, optical disks generally don’t have enough capacity to be useful for system archives.
Optical disks can also have a high error rate when writing to the disk, so consider enabling your disk writing software’s verification function. Included with most disk writing software, verification will ensure that the data was accurately written to the optical disk and will inform you if an error was found. Optical disks can also degrade over time. If you’re using this option for long-term storage, consider purchasing a more expensive archival-grade disk.
USB Flash Drives
Pros: Great for data files
Cons: Not so great for system archives
While most flash drives still don’t have the capacity for system archives, they are an extremely versatile tool for backing up data files. (For Drake users, data files include tax returns, Document Manager, and Client Write-Up data.) USB flash drives are portable, reliable, and durable, and it is easy to restore data from USB drives in case of accidental deletion or file corruption. When looking for the right brand and model of USB flash drive for you, check out sites such as Newegg.com or Amazon.com, that allow customer comments. Note that on some USB flash drives, information can be encrypted; if a drive is lost or stolen; the encryption can help protect your client’s sensitive personal information.
Pros: Large enough capacity for system backups
Cons: Larger than flash drives, and not as resilient
External Power Source Not Required: “Bus-powered” drives require only a connection to a computer in order to operate, making it quick and easy to move data from one computer to another. Bus-powered drives also often come in smaller sizes—both physically and in terms of data capacity—than drives that require an external power source.
External Power Source Required: External-powered drives require both a connection to the computer and an external power connection. External-powered drives often come with some form of software designed for complete or incremental backups. If you are using an external-powered drive, consider purchasing more than one drive of the same model. This allows you to have an offsite backup setup, complete with its own set of cables, that can be rotated out with the onsite backup drive.
Take care when using external drives. Avoid moving them while in use, and remember to properly shut down all external drives before disconnecting them.
Pros: Convenient; data stored on multiple virtual servers
Cons: Data available only as long as cloud-storage company is in business
As with different types of physical backup media, some types of Internet-based “cloud storage” media are better suited for data backups, while some are better for system backups.
Dropbox syncs the contents of a folder on your local computer to both cloud storage and any other computer setup in your Dropbox account. Cloud-stored data can be easily and securely accessed online. You can store up to two gigabytes of online space for free with Dropbox; more storage is available for a fee. The free Dropbox service is ideal for data backups.
Carbonite, another online backup service, offers a product closer to a system archive. While you cannot back up programs or temporary files using Carbonite, you can back up an unlimited amount of data, as long as it is stored on internal drives only. Be aware that initial backups can take several hours—or days, depending on your available upload speed.