If your computer broke down, if your phone got stolen, if your office flooded – what would you lose?

The tech itself is replaceable, but your documents, family photos, home videos, work projects, business assets might be gone forever. Unless, of course, you've created backups.

But have you?

Surveys suggest only about 1 in 4 people backup their data regularly. And that's only computers. With our personal data increasingly dispersed across multiple devices – personal laptops, work computers, phones, tablets – even people and businesses that diligently backup their files report data loss.

Still, they're in a better position than the 21% of people who have never made a backup at all.

The best time to do something about this and protect your digital valuables is now. In the spirit of World Backup Day (March 31st), start creating copies of important documents, precious memories, business assets and storing them safely.

Secure your data with the 3 copy strategy

Experts always recommend the 3 copy strategy, which guarantees nothing important gets lost. It says you should always store 3 copies of your data in 3 different places:

  1. In your home
  2. At a family member's place
  3. And... somewhere else

To the third point, you and your company have several options:

  1. On-premise – storing the backup locally on your own servers
  2. On dedicated servers – storing it off-premise on dedicated hard drives, either leveraging cloud services or owned data centers
  3. On the public cloud – storing it in secure and optimized shared spaces hosted by a cloud service provider

Companies increasingly opt for the cloud, not only to minimize the risk of data loss, but also to take advantage of cost efficiency. For instance, while maintaining a backup on-premise offers protection from digital attacks, cloud service providers (CSPs) typically store your data across multiple locations, to ensure it's protected at all times. Scaleway’s Multi-AZ (availability zone) Object Storage, for example, means data is stored redundantly across multiple data centers, meaning not even a T-Rex attack on a data center could compromise the safety of users’ digital belongings!

It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg either. If you consider a dedicated server can cost from €180/year, this is competitively priced with an old-fashioned external hard drive. What’s more, cloud usage is more efficient, which is notably better for the environment. Whereas an on-premise server might only be active for a few hours a day, CSPs ensure resources are fully used at all times. The same server resources could, for example, be used by a ministry during the day, and by a gaming server provider at night (real life example!)

Dedicated servers + cloud flexibility: you can have both!

Shared solutions aren't for everyone. A lot of cloud customers opt for on-premise servers for their infrastructure and backups, favoring stability and simplicity over scalability and flexibility.

To put incessant sysadmin debates to rest, Scaleway has introduced Elastic Metal – a best-of-both-worlds solution that pairs the performance and stability of dedicated servers with the flexibility of use of virtual ones, allowing clients to keep and backup data whilst benefiting from all the advantages of the public cloud.

The exotic future of data storage

What’s next for data storage? How will we be backing up our data in the next 10-20 years? Some innovations already on the horizon promise to reshape the industry entirely and change data storage forever.

Manufacturers like Seagate, for example, are developing heat-assisted magnetic (HAMR) drives with capacities of up to 30 terabytes. HAMR uses a new type of magnetic media technology which uses high temperatures to allow disks to hold more data than ever.

Just to put it into perspective, the Sundance Film Festival – the biggest of its kind in the world – receives about 4,000 feature films and 9,000 shorts submissions every year. The organizers could backup the entire collection on a single HAMR drive and there would still be some space left over.

Even more exciting – did you know that DNA was recently discovered as an ideal data storage solution? The Danish startup Grow Your Own Cloud is already storing data in plants! They’ve discovered that you can code text, images, and music using the 4 nucleotides of DNA, rather than the standard binary system. This DNA can then be stored in plants.

The project is still a ways off from commercial viability and needs to tackle some core challenges, but the potential is there and it certainly makes your imagination run wild – what if the next generation of green data centers were literally forests?!

For now, however, let's do what we can with what we have.

Conclusion

World Backup Day only comes once a year, but your backup strategy should be ongoing. Without backups, a core part of your life or your business can just… disappear. Luckily, there are countless ways to safeguard your data, new ones are popping up, and it's becoming easier and cheaper to do so.

Still, all that said, and strategies aside – at least take care of your personal stuff in the spirit of World Backup Day. Copy your documents, pictures, videos to an external hard drive, or a USB even, if it fits. And help your friends, children, parents, grandparents do the same.


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