Data Backup — Backup Media

Prepare your backup media. Assuming you are using tapes:

1. Buy six tapes, with a capacity to backup all of your working files on a single tape.

For example we’re using 4mm data cartridges with a native capacity of 4 gigabytes. Some tape drives can also compress the data to double the capacity. In our case, the same tape might hold 8 gigabytes. But the 4 is more than enough for our purposes.

2. Buy a cleaning cartridge to fit your drive. These are good for about 50 cleanings. They include a little sticker with 50 boxes; you can check off a box after each cleaning. If your tape drive has been balky, clean it six times or so, and see if that doesn’t clear up the problems.

3. The tapes will be used in rotation Monday through Friday. There are two Friday tapes, Friday #1 and Friday #2.

3. Label all of the tapes and their cases with the appropriate day.

4. Before leaving the office for the day, insert today’s tape in the tape drive, and start the backup program if needed. If it is a Friday, alternate the Friday #1 tape with the Friday #2 tape, and put the unused Friday tape in your fireproof vault or safety-deposit box.

The upshot is you have a full daily backup of your data. You store a weekly backup off-site, so that if the building burns down, you have data current to last week.

Practice restoring from tape once a month. I use personal word-processing files for this purpose. This keeps me in practice, but more importantly, gives me confidence that the tape drive and media are working.

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