May 3, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Protecting and backing up your files

When it comes to protecting our clients’ video, we are somewhat paranoid. We back video files up, distribute the various drives to multiple locations, and then deliver a drive to clients for added security.  And we tell them to back up their drive.  So, in the end, the master video files might be scattered across 4-5 different places.

Yesterday, we attended a workshop at Rule to get more suggestions on ways to protect video assets, and though the workshop was geared toward video producers, the basic advice on protecting files is applicable to anyone.

So here is a graph that illustrates the overall approach recommended by the folks at Rule. At a bare minimum, everyone should have Tier 1 protection. Ideally, all of us would combine Tier 1 with either Tier 2 or Tier 3. Our current approach, described above, is Tier 1 with Tier 2. If you have data that is really just so important that you can’t imagine life without it, you’d want to perhaps consider protecting it with a combination of all three tiers.

Just a couple additional notes on this:

1. Your computer will die. At some point this is guaranteed. If all of your files reside on your computer only, you are asking for heartbreak.

2. External drive back-up. For Tier 1 protection, with an external drive, know that there are programs that can be acquired that will automatically back up files to an external drive, so that you don’t have to do it manually.

3. And another back-up. The next layer of added protection is to add a second back-up drive and, ideally, store that second drive in a totally different location. All the precious photos and files are saved if the office burns down or the house is burglarized.

4. Network Attached Storage. An alternative to the second external drive is Network Attached Storage (NAS). NAS is really most relevant for businesses, but some people might have interest in it for personal use. The big advantage of an NAS is that the box can connect to a network. In other words, it’s connected to the internet. So in the same way you can see multiple computers that are on a network, you can also see your NAS.

Let’s suppose you are in your office and you set up your NAS in a different location (if you are a small business, that might be your home, for example).  You are backing up your files on an external drive at the office, but then you can connect to the internet and back them up on your NAS that’s at home.  Because that NAS is connected to a network, you can also use it to share files with others. You just create an account for the person with whom you are collaborating and designate what parts of the network they have access to (since you probably don’t want them to be snooping around in all the files you have on your NAS).

5. The cloud. The going rate to rent space in the cloud is about $150 for 100GB of space. What are the advantages of adding this tier? The main one is that it combines the security of having a remote location (with “storage professionals”) and ease of use. You identify a place where you want all your most important files to be held on your computer, and then you tell your cloud hosting service to back up those files automatically whenever a change is made. Presto. No remembering to do it yourself, and everything is safe and secure.

The takeaway. Everyone absolutely should be protecting their files, which is basically stating the obvious. Without a lot of extra effort, however, you can give yourself much more peace of mind if you take a “tiered” approach to your back-up. Regularly copy stuff to that external drive, and then select a second way to back up the back-up, whether that’s with a second drive, with a networked solution, or up in the clouds. And if you’re really anxious about your stuff, take a three-tiered approach.


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