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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | Backups and Disaster Recovery | Backup Methods, Devices and Media ]

Comparison of Backup Method Characteristics

In order to help you understand how the various backup methods compare to each other and help you make a decision about which one makes the most sense for you, I have enclosed the chart below. It evaluates the various backup methods in several different important general areas. These areas are:

  • Capacity: How much does the medium store, relative to current average hard disks? Is it likely that an average user's hard disk will fit onto one or maybe two pieces of media for the device/method?
  • Automatability: How possible is it to fully automate the backup so that it happens without any user intervention at all?
  • Minimized Startup Cost: How well does the method minimize startup costs for hardware or software?
  • Minimized Media Cost: Does the method allow additional backups at a reasonable cost?
  • Expandability: How possible is it to do more backups, or add additional backup media if needed?
  • Reliability: In general terms--because this varies widely based on the type of device for items such as tape drives--how likely is it that if you have a disaster and need to restore from the backup, it will work for you?
  • Simplicity / Convenience: How easy is the method to use? Is there any difficulty associated with the method that would tend to discourage doing backups?
  • Universality: How common is the hardware used for the method? If you needed to use the device in five years, how likely is it that you could find support or additional media for it?
  • Performance: How fast is the hardware and software used for the method? How much time will it take to do a backup?
  • Routine Potential: In general, how likely is it that, using this method, someone is likely to settle into a backup routine and stick with it?

Here is the chart; for all items, "High" is better and "Low" is worse (I inverted the cost items so that high had a better meaning and low worse, to keep things consistent, sorry if it is confusing):

Characteristic

Floppy Disks

Tape Drives

Removable Storage Drives

Removable Hard Disks

In-Place Hard Disk Duplication

Network Backup

File Archiving

Capacity

Very Low

High

Low to High

High

High

High

--

Automatability

Low

Low

Low

Low

High

High

High

Minimized Startup Cost

Very High

Low to High

Low to Moderate

Moderate

Moderate

High

Very High

Minimized Media Cost

Low

Moderate to High

Low to Moderate

Moderate

Very Low

Very High

Very High

Expandability

High

High

High

Moderate to High

Low

Very High

High

Reliability

Low

Low to High

Moderate to High

Moderate to High

High

Very High

Very High

Simplicity / Convenience

Moderate

Moderate to High

Moderate to High

Low

Very High

Moderate

High

Universality

Very High

Low to High

Low to Moderate

Moderate

High

High

High

Performance

Very Low

Low to Moderate

Low to High

Very High

Very High

Moderate to High

Very High

Routine Potential

Very Low

Moderate

Moderate

Moderate

Moderate to High

High

Very High

Note: For a more complete picture on how the various methods stack up, make sure to check out how they cover the various risks to your data as well. Many of the methods that look very attractive based on what you see above actually don't protect against enough of the data risks that you use backups for, to make them truly viable options.

Next: Backup Scheduling and Media Rotation Systems


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