"Which and When to Use the Best Data Backup Media to Backup Your Data?"

Data backup media is the media or device that can be use to backup your data in case of hard disk drive failure. Losing data through a hard drive crash is kind of like being robbed. One minute, life is going along normally, and the next, you're suddenly missing some very valuable stuff.

A failed hard drive can result lost on your personal or family photos and videos, music, files, and more. In an office environment, data loss can wreak havoc as well. If you haven't backed up that project you've been working on for a month, a publication you're putting together, tax or client data, or something equally important, losing it could mean losing an account, your job, or worse.

Bearing that in mind, let's first look at the types of data backup media that exist, so that you can choose the one that's right for you. Out of so many data backup media that available, the CDs and DVDs, external hard drives and flash drives, and intranet (network) and Internet drives are very common. We look at it one by one here.

(1) Flash Drives

Flash drives, thumb drives, pen drives, portable MP3 players, or whatever you want to call them can be a great data backup media. Pocket PCs and smart phones that have a memory card can also be used.

Those drives are small enough to take off-site every day, and you can attach them to your key ring or put them in your pocket. Newer drives hold more information than ever too; the latest ones hold several gigabytes of data. They're Plug and Play, so installation is a breeze, and you can use them to restore data to any computer that has a USB drive.

The only disadvantage is that they're easily lost. You may find your missing flash drive in the clothes dryer, on the floor of your car, or you may never find it at all. If it has personal data files on it and someone finds it, you could be in for far more than some lost data.

We'll say this about flash drives: They make for a great short-term backup, like when you're on a business trip (or vacation) and don't want to haul around blank CDs or DVDs, an external drive, but for the long term, you should have other data backup media to use.

On the plus side, flash drives are excellent for carrying files you may want to give to someone else; for files you may receive from someone else, for example at a conference or a meeting with customers; or for carrying files between your work and home computer (when your work computer is not accessible from your home computer). In that sense, flash drives are today's version of floppy disks-they can be used for backup, but are best used just for short-term backups or for temporary transport of files.

(2) CDs and DVDs

CDs and DVDs offer a universal way to back up files. Almost all PCs or laptop these days come with rewritable DVD drive. You can use the DVD rewritable to write/burn CD, CD-RW or DVD and DVD-RW disks. The disks are inexpensive too, and they're getting cheaper nowadays. Backing up to CDs or DVDs offers several advantages over other data backup media's because you can store the backups off-site, reuse them and restore your data from the disc to any computer, even a new one.

The only problem with using CDs as your sole backup option is that you'll probably have much more data than will fit on a couple of CDs. A common CD holds only 700MB of data; that's not a lot when you have a 200GB or even bigger hard drive. If you used CDs only, you'd likely need 50 or more to do a good backup, and data would be scattered across them. CDs deteriorate over time too. So we suggest you reserve this option for short-term backups, or to back up projects once they're finished.

The better option would be using the DVDs. DVDs hold 4.7GB of data, and the newer dual-layer DVDs hold almost twice that. We suggest you use DVDs to burn copies of large folders of media, such as pictures, videos, and music, and to create backups of programs you've downloaded from the Internet or that you've purchased from a computer store.

A dual-layer DVD burner is more expensive than normal DVD burner and disks are about $5 a piece at the time this article was written. However, backing up 8.5GB of data in a single shot is a great data backup media for those with lots of data.

(3) External Hard Drives

External hard drives are another data backup media option for you that come in lots of shapes and sizes. External hard drives are simple to use, and you can back up literally gigabytes of data with a single click. They connect easily to your PC via USB or FireWire, and you don't need to purchase additional media. With an external drive, even the most paranoid users can feel safe. If you wanted to, you could perform a complete backup of your system every night of the week.

We can't think of too many disadvantages to this method. You can remove the external drive and take it off site, it's fairly inexpensive (considering it's a total backup system), and there's no additional media to purchase, like CDs or DVDs, and, it's completely reusable!

The only disadvantage is that it's a disk drive. It's possible that the external hard drives being infected by the viruses or having the mechanical problem, then your backup data may get lost. So, you should consider data backup media that can backup your data remotely.

(4) Network Drives

In a corporate setting, your working drive (where the documents you work on every day are stored) is usually backup to a network drive on a corporate server. Typically, an IT administrator will back up the network drive every day, so you don't have to do anything at all regarding your own backups.

However, some companies do configure a setup where data is stored on your own PC, and you have special disks and network drives designated for backup. It is then your responsibility to perform a quick backup before leaving each day. Whatever the case, network drives are generally backed up by someone else, to insure data is safe in case of a disaster. This type of setup makes network drives the optimal way to back up data.

Network drives are used like external drives, meaning you can drag files nightly to back up the day's data. In a corporate setting, you'll usually save directly to the network drive while you are working, and not to your PC. So, in this case, you don't have to do backups at all! If you're confused about whether you have a network drive where you work, ask the administrator.

(5) Internet Options

This is another data backup media option for you. There are several places you can save your data online. If you go with a reputable company, you can rest assured that your data will be safe. There are several good companies such as Amazon S3, Xdrive, Mozy, and IBackup.

With these companies, you pay a monthly fee and upload your daily backups to a safe and secure server, far from where your office is. This is a good thing because if your office is destroyed by a fire or flood, you'll know your data is safe. You can also access your data from anywhere, so if you're on a business trip and need to get or save data, you can do so just by logging on.

So, which data backup media option is most suitable for you? It depends on your needs and preferences.

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