Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are you ready for a disaster?

EARTHQUAKE
Yesterday an earthquake shook southern California. It was centered roughly 7 miles from where I live and weighed in around 5.4, so I definitely felt it. It lasted about 10 seconds (reports say 30) and though nothing in my house fell off shelves it did a pretty good dance. Less than a minute isn't really enough time grab valuables or make sure certain things are safe.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS
Later that day I started thinking about disaster preparedness. I've always heard the advice to keep a copy of important data off-site, but if your data is changing daily you know how difficult it is to even back everything up (unless of course you have a great automated backup system).
In my work I generally burn large but discrete units of data to DVD's, but so far have only been burning one version. Occasionally I'll have to go back and update (i.e. re-burn) the data if anything has been changed in the data set. I'm considering a data swap with another organizational unit at work. I'll store your valuable data in my office if you store mine in yours. The only drawback with this method is that you have to trust without hesitation that the other organizational unit will not under any circumstances pry into your data and that they will care for it as if it were there own (or perhaps better).
I consider this method because of the low overhead, it would be practically free.

COLD STORAGE?
Probably the best method (which may also be the most costly) would be to send the data into long term cold storage. The drawback is that you wouldn't have ready access to the data - although I suppose if it's truly archival and perfect as is you wouldn't need access to it. Wouldn't it be great if any data was truly archival and perfect as is?

ONLINE STORAGE?
Another option that crosses my mind occasionally is online storage. There are plenty of options to store information online, many of which can be pricey (especially if you're sealing with large files). My concern about online storage is that it would be through individual companies, and individual companies are prone to dissolution. So even if I were to store things online I'd still want another copy saved somewhere else.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I'd like to ask you, my readers, do you store your valuable data somewhere other than on your computer? What devices do you use to back things up? Do you store anything off-site? Have you found any economical and brilliant solutions to long term data storage? Any ideas (no matter how crazy) will be welcomed with open arms. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

May all you data be free from harm.

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John