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Month: January 2022

Data Availability, Yeah, That’s Important.

Before we dive into our discussion here, take a look a the image at the top of this blog post. We are looking at the internals of a hard drive. You can see the mirror finish of an actual disc, part of the read/write head armature and what looks like a scratch on the disc.

Yes, that’s a scratch. That’s what happens when a read/write head “crashes” into the surface of the disc while it’s spinning.

So, let’s hold a moment of silence for my Western Digital WD20EFRX 2 TB Red NAS drive. It was what I was using for the Timeshift backup drive in my desktop system. Prior to that it was part of a pair that I had in a NAS (Network Attached Storage) that we stopped using when it’s power supply died.

The drive was manufactured on 5 September 2014 and I bought it shortly after that. I had this drive for 8 years. For five of those years it has served as an internal backup drive through two different computers. It had worked well and provided on more than one occasion recovery important things.

So what do I do now for an internal backup drive? Well, fortunately, I still have the second part of that NAS pair. It’s been installed and is working right now.

Some of you maybe asking, what’s an internal backup? Well, put simply, in IT you will hear a phrase from time to time.

“Two is one, one is none.”

Anonymously quoted

This refers to redundancy and/or availability. In cybersecurity, it’s part of a trinity of concepts referred to as CIA; Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability. With regards to our discussion, Availability refers to access to data should there be an problem such as crypto-malware locking us out of our data or in this case, a hardware failure. Fortunately it was the backup drive that failed, the main drive is okay; however, backup drives should be considered just as important as your main drive. Two is one and so on…

If you have two copies of your data, you are in good shape as you have a backup should you lose a copy. If you only have one copy and you lose that, you are out of luck. Always have a backup solution in place to ensure that you don’t lose your data.

So, this 2 TB hard drive was a second storage device in my computer. When I was running Windows, this is where I had backups stored using the File History function of Windows. When I moved to Mint Linux, this is where I used Timeshift to store system snapshots which backed up all my data.

I also use an external 2 TB drive where I periodically will copy data to back it up outside or external to my computer. Once I am done making that backup, that drive is powered off and disconnected from the computer. Additionally I also store data offsite.

So I have the main copy of my data that I use, the Internal backup that happens automatically, the external backup that I do manually. The offsite storage is an additional item to ensure that should something bad happen and the house is destroyed thus destroying the computer, internal and external backups; my data is safe.

Is this a bit of overkill? In this day and age, I don’t think so. There are many reasons for storing your data in this fashion:

  • Having an internal backup drive allows for rapid recovery of any data should any mishap occur.
  • Should the power supply of the computer fail and possibly cause damage to my main and backup drives, the external backup comes to the rescue. Drive failures like the one I experienced here, again, that external backup ensures some peace of mind.
  • Should Crypto-Malware attempt to ruin my day and encrypt both my main storage and the Internal backup as it’s connected to the system, again, the external backup allows me to recover that data as it would be unaffected by that problem.
  • Having my data stored offsite allows for recovery of my data should my home be destroyed due to severe weather, fire or another event, I’m covered.

A word about offsite backups. It sounds fancy, it sounds expensive and potentially complicated. In truth, it’s not any of those things. You could use a cloud storage service that you know and trust to sync your data. You could take an external hard drive and store it in a safety deposit box at a bank or locked in a safe with a family member somewhere. There are of course more complicated options but with backups, however, the easier a backup solution is to use, the more likely someone will use them.

Should you still be looking for some inspiration for a New Year’s resolution? Start backing up your data would be a good one.

Until next time!