Tech · 31.03.2021

World Backup Day 2021 - No Backup - No Mercy!

Was du heute tun solltest und was langfristig hilft Datenverlust zu vermeiden

World Backup Day Symbolbild

All gone. As long as there has been digital data, there has been the horror scenario. Maybe because a hard disk gives up the ghost and takes the data with it. Maybe because the data is stolen, encrypted, deleted or destroyed by natural hazards. There are many ways to lose what is dear to you, expensive and usually irretrievably gone. This does not only apply to private data - the photos of the grandparents, an audio recording of the child's first words or a video of the wedding. Company data can also be irretrievably lost in this way.

That is why every year on 31 March there is World Backup Day. As a reminder to the 30 percent of users who have never created and saved a backup, i.e. a copy of their important data. And to the even larger group of people for whom this was done far too long ago. But the way out of the crisis is very simple. You need a backup.

Types of backups

The two types of backups we will discuss today are

  • Online backups
  • Backups on the external hard disk

There are other (mixed) types, such as NAS (Network Attached Storages), tape drives, the (good) old DVD, but that is not what we are going to talk about today.

Online backups usually run via a cloud. Here, data is copied or synchronised automatically or manually to a server, and thus stored externally. Examples of possible programmes here are Dropbox (Dropbox Inc.), OneDrive (Microsoft) and Google Drive. They all offer both free and premium versions - depending on storage space requirements and desired features.

An external hard drive serves as a storage medium for a local copy. If certain data should not end up on the internet for various reasons or if a large amount of storage is needed, they are a good solution. Over the years, large hard disks have also become cheaper. Either complete with enclosure, to be combined with an enclosure of your choice or to be quickly exchanged in a docking station. We can recommend the Stiftung Warentest comparison as an independent test institute. Both backup programmes and hard drives were tested here in January. When selecting the size of the hard drive, you can use your existing data media as a guide and select an appropriately sized backup hard drive depending on your plans.

Do it today so it won't hurt tomorrow. Start with a first small step.

Any (functioning) backup is better than none. So before you make a cute entry today à la "Think about a backup strategy. This time for real!!!" in the ToDo collection of your choice, how about the following alternative?

  • Tonight, rummage through your flat for your external hard drive and simply make a copy (again). It doesn't hurt and makes you feel great!
  • If you don't have a hard drive lying around, quickly get an external hard drive. Check out the reviews above or get a recommendation. Any is better than none. Unpack, make a copy, take a deep breath.
  • After that, you have time to think about everything else. Use the 3-2-1 rule or come up with your own. Do it manually on a regular basis or find software that reminds you or helps you automate it.

3-2-1 (still) yours - With this rule you are on the safe side

A good practice that protects against many backup problems is the 3-2-1 backup rule.

Make 3 copies of your data! Regularly.
Use 2 different media for this. These can and should be different hard drives and/or a mixture of hard drives and online storage.
Keep at least 1 copy at an external location. Depending on the strategy chosen above, this can be online storage or, even better, a safe outside the house (parents, office, …).

Of course, don't forget to encrypt the hard drive - this is very easy to do with most operating systems today. Or you can use popular tools like VeraCrypt. This way, in case of data loss, you can always fall back on at least one secure (and hopefully up-to-date) source.

The following example shows what happens when data is not stored in two physically different places.

The burning data centre in Strasbourg - what happens when original and backup are in the same building

The pictures went around the world - in France, on 11 March 2021, the data centre of OVH, one of the largest internet service providers in Europe, burned down. The company owns 27 data centres worldwide, including in Germany, Poland, Great Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and Singapore. Of these, four were no longer accessible in one fell swoop. As Heise reported, two of the four buildings were damaged by the fire, one of them was completely destroyed.

The outage affected 16,000 customers, and a total of 3.6 million websites went offline briefly. The biggest problem here is that backup servers were also damaged because they were stored in the same building as the original data. Because no spatial separation was made, many customers lost their data irretrievably, including the Centre Pompidou, the French Bitcoin provider Coinhouse, the official website of the French government and the British computer game company Facepunch - literally a real slap in the face. But it doesn't always have to be a force of nature that rages.

Ransomware in large companies - how backups prevent the worst from happening

Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro was the victim of a ransomware attack in early 2019. In the process, hackers took 22000 computers offline at 170 locations in 40 countries worldwide, encrypted with the message "Pay us or you'll be locked out forever". 35000 employees had to switch to pen and paper because of this. There was no exact ransom demand, only contact details for the hackers who struck with the LockerGoga virus, according to BBC News. The company consistently refused to pay a ransom, probably because they had backups available, according to Kaspersky . About a year later, Norsk Hydro disclosed that the attack had cost them a total of 65 million euros. Nevertheless, they stand by their decision not to pay the hackers, as this would promote a dangerous industry.

Conclusion

Any (functioning) backup is better than no backup. To quote Christian Funk, head of the analysis and research team at security software provider Kaspersky:

"World Backup Day should be an appeal for everyone to regularly archive their own data in the form of a backup copy on a medium that is not permanently connected. Because in case of loss or encryption of a device, there is no going back."

In times of constant globalisation, digital data is not only a new currency, but also an absolute necessity. That's why they need special protection - even if it's annoying sometimes.


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