Ever since the computing technology has evolved to become the mainstream media of data generation, it has become essential part for a Business or even Individuals to archive data. Perhaps we humans now a days are creating more data than all other previous generations ever did all together. However, the underlying question that remains to be one of the most important one is, how exactly we can go about preserving this data?Data Archiving.
On this post I will focus on a miniature level of data archiving strategy. In other words, let's talk about data archiving strategy on a individual level. Think of about all the documents that you have ever created. All the word documents, pictures or videos that you have captured and the text messages you sent to your friends of family. It's staggering number of data by any means. So, for the sake of simplicity I will divide the type of data into two different category.
On a personal level, I consider my family photos, articles that I have written, music collection that I have on my computer are to be permanent type of data. In other words I want to have them or collect them forever or at least as long as I am here. These type of data are of absolute importance and I can't compromise or I can afford to loose them at any cost. These are the type of data that I am defining as Permanent Data.
Perhaps these are the type of data that I do care less about. Class assignments that I have from my undergraduate level classes, pictures that I have randomly taken without any meaningful reasoning, text messages that my friend sent me few years back, emails that I have received after purchasing an item from Amazon are basically the type of data that you don't need now a days. I am considering them to be Temporary data which does not carry that much of importance to me anymore.
Now, please bare in mind though that the responsibility of classifying the type of your data eventually depends entirely up to you. I just followed a simple method of reasoning to classify them.
This is the hardest part of all and it took a huge toll on me. It required certain type of brain storming and calculation that I am not comfortable with. The bottom line is, it all comes down to the amount of money you are willing to spend to preserve your data. So, lets dive into it.
There are so many different way one can archive the data. Some of them are fairly cheap and some are not. Let's talk about cheap data archiving. Now days, computer hard drives (HDD) are fairly cheap and quite reliable. So, if you have massive amount of data perhaps this would be the best option. However, they can be unreliable as well. Simply dropping your portable backup drive once or twice could be good enough to loose it all. Since these are mechanical drives, it may even die tomorrow morning without giving you any clue. It happened to me in the past.
Solid State Drives (SSD) are still expensive. Cost per gigabyte of SSD over HDD are much more pricier. If you have few terabytes of data, using SSD to backup your data is not a logical option to me. I have few of them and I am quite happy with my experience but like I said, it's expensive. Even though these type of drives doesn't have any mechanical parts on it, they eventually wears out as the time progresses. Same goes to flash drive or even memory cards. However, this could be a great option (not the best) to archive your temporary data.
Cloud Storage is one of the most reliable and the best alternative for temporary data archival, at least to me. Especially for the type of data that you need to back up over and over. Let's say, you have an word or excel document that needs to be updated everyday or may be you are a photographer who takes lots of photos every day, for these kind of work, I think cloud storage could be best option as of today. You can always download your pictures or documents and re-upload them for future use. Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Drive are some of the great choices you have. However, bare in mind that pricing of per GB of storage may vary based on the provider you pick.
One may ask what about the permanent data? Well, as far as my research is concern, I am leaning more towards optical discs for permanent data archiving. This may come as a surprise to many but it turns out this is the best option we have as of now for permanent data archival. Also, I am not talking about your typical CD for permanent data storage. Moreover a typical CD has only about 800MB of space which not a practical solution. No one would go about burning thousands of discs. I am talking about a very specific type of disc. That is Blu Ray M-Disc. I won't get into details but PCWorld published an article back in 2015 on this, I would highly recommend you to read that post for better understanding. Blu Ray M-Disc comes in many different sizes (25GB, 50GB, 100GB, 128GB). I picked up Millenniata 25GB Blu Ray M-Disc for my permanent data archival. Yes, you would have to buy an optical drive that can both write and read Blu Ray M-Discs for that. So, here is the bottom line for me. I am using Blu Ray M-Discs for my permanent data archival and Cloud storage for temporary data archival.