Monday, October 1, 2007

Cheap DR strategy for your home data? Yes its possible!

Disaster Recovery. You have probably heard of (and dread) this term if you are an IT manager in a sizable company. With the proliferation of mission-critical enterprise IT systems and the implications of losing such systems as a result of natural or human-induced (think 9/11) disasters, DR is fast becoming, if not already, a key concern for most companies.

On the home front, as we start acquiring more digital assets (e.g. music purchased from itunes, family pictures and videos, electronic documents and books), it certainly make sense to think about DR to protect your data, especially those that are irreplaceable and have high sentimental values.

If you live in Singapore, you will probably think that DR is excessive since we are relatively safe from natural disasters and no one is likely to drop a bomb (or plane) on your house. But what about other threats like household fire and theft? Living in a densely populated city, with shrinking apartments packed tightly together in high rise blocks, coupled with increasing number of electrical appliances and electronics found in homes, fire accidents are common and can cause widespread damage.

So we have established that DR is something that both business and home owners should be concerned with. However, unlike the business, home owners typically do not have the capital (nor is it feasible) to invest in elaborate DR setups (think redundant data centers and distributed setups) or even offsite backup services like Cisco's Recall.

The good news is that with widespread availability of cheap unlimited broadband and online backup services, home users (and small offices that cannot afford the big bucks) can have the cake and eat it.

One of my favorites is MozyHome. This is a cheap, under five US dollars monthly, solution that offers unlimited storage, 30 days backup window and is really easy to setup and use. They even offer a free version that limits you to 2GB of data!

Alternatively, for the technically savy and those who are simply paranoid about storing personal data on some unknown servers and have no control over them, you can roll your own offsite backups with rsync and a little help from your family and friends. Details on how to do this can be found here. For obvious reasons, choose a friend or family member who stays as far away from you as possible!

Some closing words. Offsite backups do take a significant amount of time to recover hence it should be considered as part of a total backup strategy.

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