What Backup Media Is Right For You?

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So hopefully you all know the importance of backups in the business environment. If you have read other articles I have written you will know I am a strong believer in backups, I backup every night and also do one before I make any changes to a server just incase (most of the time I just make a snapshot of the vitual machine I am working on but if it is a physical machine I will make a full backup) it breaks somehow.
What we will be covering today will be in relation to the actual backup media not software and is related to both servers in the business environment and computers in business and home. If you do have a server hopefully all of your files are stored on that, that way you only have to back up one thing and all of your precious data is safe.

Considerations when designing a backup solution

When designing your backup solution there are some key questions that you want to ask yourself.

What amount of downtime is acceptable?

If you are planning to backup a server that has business critical information on it is it acceptable to be down for a day? Probably not, remember downtime costs money. If you are backing up your home PC it may be perfectly acceptable to be down for a day. Finding this out can be key to what hadware you will use for backups.

Where are the backups stored?

Have you considered fire or theft? Storing the backups offsite is always a good idea no matter what backup media you are using.

Tape drives


  • Cheap
  • Portable and easy to take offsite


  • Restoring files can take a long time as you need to fast forward to the place the file is located on the tape.


Using tape drives for backups is a tried and true backup method. The tape drives are small and make it easy to take your data offsite. The amount of data that can be stored on the tape is quite large.
The downside of the tape drive is that it can take a long time to restore data and is inefficient to restore one file sfter accidental deletion.

USB Drives


  • Easy to get and replace
  • Good backup speeds if using USB3
  • Portable and easy to take offsite
  • Easy to test that the backups are working



Using USB Drives can be good for backups as end users are already familiar with using them. They are easy to change and are portable enough to take offsite. Sometimes they do need to be replaced as they can fail.



  • Easy
  • Big data storage
  • Scalable


  • Cost


Although a NAS is a good backup medium you still need to back up your NAS. NAS allows you to backup quickly and also allows you to restore quickly.

Cloud Storage


  • Easy
  • Automatically stored offsite


  • Can cost to restore (check out AWS pricing)
  • Can use alot of bandwidth
  • Costs can rise as data needs grows


Cloud Storage works great as a backup but when you have alot of data or you are trying to backup full VMs this can chew up all of your available internet data or just take to long to do. Some cloud storage providers do allow you to do incremental cloud backups, that can reduce the amount of bandwidth used.
For a one computer setup this is wonderful it is simple and offsite.

So what is the best backup device?

Really there is no best backup solution. You need to find one that meets your needs and budget. Different environments will call for different hardware setups. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice options for budget but please don’t just go for the cheapest option without carefully considering what you will do if the worst was to happen.


Jake Gardner

Jake is an IT Consultant/Systems Engineer that works for a business that offers services to SMB clients. He runs his own business that delivers solutions geared towards online marketing and web design.

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1 Comment

  1. RD Wolff August 7, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    For my machines that are used for everything (mac) I’ve always used WD Caviar drives in them, since at least the last 16 years, never had even one fail on me.
    I generally like to replace my main drive when it’s about 12 to 18 months old and then store the pulled one away as a backup- the new drive being a clone of the pulled one.
    I also back up to several external firewire drives.
    I’ve never had a problem or failure of any kind with this schedule.
    12-18 months might seem short but my machines are on 24/7 and they typically get a lot of heavy, hard, long use 7 days a week so it’s a good insurance policy and the 1 TB drives are dirt cheap these days anyway at $100

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