Episode #9 | Date Recorded: 2023-03-23 | Runtime: 13:59

About This Podcast Episode

When was the last time you backed up your data? With #WorldBackupDay around the corner, we dive into a conversation with our Triple Helix team about why backups are so important.

Learn the difference between cloud storage versus cold storage and see what our team recommends during Episode #9 of our Helix Insider Podcast.

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Podcast Transcript

Jason Bittner (CEO): This is Jason Bittner from Triple Helix Corporation and welcome to our Helix Insider Podcast. I’m joined in studio today by two of my colleagues, Andy Webster, who is our Senior Web Developer for Triple Helix and Shawn Coover, who is our Systems Engineer for Triple Helix. Welcome to the studio guys. So today we’re going to be talking to you guys about the importance of backups and why it really matters.

This is a topic that I think everyone can kind of understand and appreciate, but there’s a little bit more to it than just, hey, making sure your files are backed up in case something bad happens to your computer so you can get them back kind of thing.

There’s actually quite a bit to this, so we’d like to walk you through it. So Andy, just for our listeners, let’s start with the importance of backups and why it’s important.

Andy Webster: Yeah. So in this day and age, pretty much all your data is in electronic form, mostly, you know, like your people have like tax documents, you know, bank statements, stuff like that. But also just like important stuff like pictures of your kids. And the older you get, the more important data you accumulate is what I find.

Also in terms of business data, it’s just very important to back that up because that’s time spent and that’s work that you’re going to have to do again if you lost that. So in a sense, it’s good to be a data pack rat in that sense, which is what I refer to myself as.

Yeah. So we want to perform our backups on like a regular, pretty regular basis, I would say, just because you never know when something’s going to happen. You never know when your power is going to go out. You know, lightning surge could blow up your hard drive or something like that, or just hard drives don’t last forever. I’ve had plenty of them go in my life and I’ve had some that have held on for surprisingly long periods of time. But, you know, that’s basically like storing your important documents in an old rotting shed kind of thing.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Good point. Good point. Now, not all backups are actually the same and they’re not all created equal. Shawn, why don’t you walk us through what different types of backups are out there and what kind of devices we back up?

Shawn Coover: There’s definitely several different types of backups that are available out there. When you talk businesses, there’s incremental backups versus server backups.

Server backups are typically images of the entire server that are stored off premise so that you can restore the whole server. Then there’s also incremental backups of your data so that you should be on a rolling incremental status.

You could do it on an incremental basis where only the new data that’s been stored gets backed up to the off premise. And there’s also, you know, there’s cloud versus cold storage, which I think we’ll speak more about that in a little bit. Incremental versus your full system backups. You want to make sure you have at least, you know, a daily, a weekly, and a monthly for your server images. But all of your incremental data, your databases, all your server files, you should be doing that on an incremental status.

And that should be going to some sort of cloud storage if you don’t have your own cold storage solution.

And cold storage solutions are sort of not the best way to go anymore, but it is a good solution for personal uses, but for business uses, you definitely want to have both.

Jason Bittner (CEO): So let’s talk a little bit now about disaster recovery, because, you know, there’s really no point in making a backup if you don’t know your backups are working.

And so Andy talk to us a little bit about like the importance of testing backups and why that’s very, very important.

Andy Webster: Most times, you know, you’re not doing your backups manually. So the server is kind of doing it for you or. And so you do want to check in every so often just to make sure that you didn’t have like an update that broke something and, you know, you have you think you’re you think you have seven days back of data and then something happens and you go to look at your backup and it’s like, oh, actually, we don’t have a backup or you load it up and it’s like three

days ago or something like that instead of yesterday.

So that’s like pretty much every developer and system admin’s nightmare is when you need to have a backup and it’s not actually there.

So yeah, so good, good practice to just periodically check in and try to take your backup and move, you know, load it into something just to see if it’s actually working.

Jason Bittner (CEO): That’s an excellent point, because I remember back in the day, like we had clients that were using these old antiquated tape backup systems. In fact, some people still use this. And you know, for our listeners, the tape backup is similar to like a cassette tape that it’s magnetic and you would load the tape into the device and it would go through and it would like systematically back up and it wasn’t instantaneous. It would actually take quite a while, maybe a few hours.

And what these customers of ours were doing is they were backing up to this tape, but they would never test it. And so at one point, the worst case scenario happened where their primary server failed and they went back to the tape to try to recover it and realizing that they had been backing up empty tapes for the last 10 years and they had nothing.

It was the doomsday scenario.

So the importance of testing backups just can’t be understated. And related to that, you know, we were also aware that, you know, backup technologies have really evolved over the years.

And Shawn was talking about this. I’m going to come back to you, Shawn.

We’re now recommending something that goes completely out the building into the cloud.

And you know, my recollection of cloud storage in the early days for backups, it was quite expensive. So a lot of folks just didn’t do it.

It was cheaper to have your own tape or your own systems on premise. But nowadays, because storage is so cheap, we really recommend putting your data in the cloud.

Shawn, why don’t you talk to our listeners about the importance of the cloud backups and how easy and accessible and moreover, what it means for our listeners personally, as well as for their businesses?

Shawn Coover: Yeah, sure. Like I said before, cloud storage has been evolving very rapidly.

The cost of storage has been decreasing and plummeting really. You know, these one terabyte, two terabyte SSDs, which are so much faster than HDDs are going for cheap.

So businesses are setting up huge clouds that are all redundant with huge rate arrays.

And they’re able to with the cost of storage, and the cost of data transfer coming down, they’re able to offer cheaper rates on cloud storage.

As I said, experts are starting to recommend cloud storage more than than just cold storage.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Shawn, what’s cold storage? I don’t believe we’ve defined that.

Shawn Coover: Cold storage is where you take like an external hard drive or as you were mentioning the tapes, you plug it into your computer, you’re you drop your data in there, and you unplug it and you put it in draw in a drawer somewhere that’s cold storage.

Jason Bittner (CEO): So it’s not accessible after you’ve stored it basically.

Shawn Coover: Right. It’s not on. It’s not accessible. So the hardware doesn’t have as much wear and tear until you you plug it back in if you need that data again. But you know, that’s a manual process too, you have to manually do that, just like the tapes.

Andy Webster: So you mentioned RAID. What is RAID exactly?

Shawn Coover: RAID is a redundant array of independent disks. It’s a server card where you plug multiple hard drives into it. And there’s multiple different levels of RAID, like 10 and five.

But it makes sure that if a hard drive fails in this array, they can take it out and put it back in and not lose any data whatsoever.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Because it’s actually writing the data simultaneously to multiple drives, right, Shawn?

Shawn Coover: Yes, it’s writing the data to multiple drives like a RAID one is a mirror where you have one hard drive over here and another hard drive over here, both connected, the same data is being written to both of them. So if one one fails, you can pull it out and put the other one back in. So we have, you know, companies have a dedicated entire department and lots of resources to creating these huge cloud storage implementations.

And they’re getting pretty cheap.

Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, there’s several others out there that are that are really cheap.

I think Apple has iCloud for 10 bucks a month for two terabytes.

So cloud storage is getting really cheap. In the long run cold storage is cheaper. But you know, you just don’t get the redundancy with cold storage that you get with cloud storage, because they have entire teams that are dedicated to maintaining those servers.

And you know, from a practical purpose, you know, we always tell our clients that they should be doing some sort of redundant storage, not only for their business, but actually for their personal, because as you mentioned, the different softwares that are out there, iCloud and Google Drive and the whatnot are so cheap, there’s really no excuse not to do that.

But it does take a little bit of effort to set it up initially, because in a lot of these softwares, what you’ll do is you’ll point at a directory on your machine, or even like, say, the entire machines hard drive and say, hey, when I make a change, back this up and throw the file out on the cloud.

And so you have that redundancy, but it’s automated, and it’s done for you.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Right.

Shawn Coover: Yeah, see, companies are actually starting to make that even easier. Like Apple and Microsoft, iCloud and a OneDrive. If you like for Windows, Microsoft OneDrive, if you save a file on your computer, it goes to OneDrive.

If you have a OneDrive account, same for Apple on your Mac OS. If you save a file and you have iCloud, it saves to iCloud. They’re getting almost instantaneous with this. Dropbox takes a little bit more time than instantaneous, but some of these companies are really going for instant.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Right, right. Back in the day, I actually started with Carbonite, which is a really decent backup service. Carbonite was one of the few companies that did instantaneous


That’s not true anymore, but they were very favored initially, because when you did save your file, it would go immediately to their cloud archive. Whereas Dropbox at the time wasn’t instantaneous. It might take an hour or two before it was finally synced.

But to your point, I mean, it’s all instantaneous now, and there’s just a huge wealth of options for businesses and individuals to use.

Shawn Coover: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of options for everyone to use. I always recommend that everyone should have redundant backups. Do some cold storage, you know, have an external hard drive where you dump all your personal data at, but also have some sort of cloud storage solution so that in the case of something like a house fire or, you know, God forbid, a flood or something like that, your cold storage devices may get damaged.

So there’s always that threat.

So it’s always a good idea to look into cloud storage.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Actually, we’re getting actually close to the end of our time here. Just before we sign off, any final thoughts? Back to you, Andy.

Andy Webster: Just it’s not too hard to storage personally. I mean, I know that it’s to me, it’s very important because, you know, I have pictures of my kids that I don’t want to lose. That’s like those are those are things that are, you know, irreplaceable. And you know, as well as just your business data, it’s just oftentimes I think we don’t think of electronic data as being as important as it is, because I don’t know, maybe that’s just me having come through that period of time.

But you know, where things were every everything was written down and everything’s in the cloud. But you know, it’s it’s just as important as those tax documents that you have written

on paper. So, you know, make sure you make sure you have it planned.

Jason Bittner (COE): Right, for sure. Shawn, how about you? Final thoughts?

Shawn Coover: Yeah, my final thought is that redundancy is key. If you’re ever, you got to have there’s going to be issues at some point, you’re going to have hard drive failures, you’re going to if you have a computer, you’re going to have, you know, phone failures, stuff like that. Hardware goes bad. So it’s always important to have redundant backups of all your important data. You know, like I have pictures of my kids too. And you know, I have important tax documents.

I have all sorts of personal important data that I need to make sure that I have always so redundancy is key. So I have cloud storage and cold storage, and it’s best to have both.

And if you’re really, if you’re really paranoid, or really want to get into backups, you could have two cloud storages options like Google Drive and OneDrive. I mean, I have two, so, but that’s just me. I’m very paranoid about my my data. I’m a systems engineer, it’s what I do.

Jason Bittner (CEO): Yeah, for sure, man. Okay, well, thank you. I want to thank my two guests, Sean Coover and Andy Webster for joining me today in studio and this is our Helix Insider podcast till next time.