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This weekend, I was following my friends on Twitter and noticed that our friend Leo Leporte experienced something that all true geeks fear most, DATA LOSS!

Here's how I saw it go down on Twitter:

First off, let me say that my thoughts and prayers go out to Leo during this time of loss! Weirdly enough, I almost mean that as much seriously as much as I do in a lighthearted way as I would express the same sentiments to someone who has lost someone near and dear to them.

I thought that the reason why people used a Raid 5 backup (RAID 5 : Combines three or more disks in a way that protects data against loss of any one disk; the storage capacity of the array is reduced by one disk.) was because hardware such as an individual hard drive is susceptible to failure and so that if all the data is mirrored on all three or more drives, if one drive fails, you have two or more good copies of the data. However, it would appear that a simple failure of the hardware known as the “Raid 5 Card” can completely wipe out the benefit of having more than one external drive backup. This is exactly why I'm not at all fascinated by Raid 5 or Drobos!

To many of us geeks, we put so much of who we are into ones and zeroes. Luckily, Leo didn't loose any of his own content, just all the blood sweat and tears poured into the systems that were in place to deliver the content. However, the contributions from hundreds, if not thousands, of people who left comments on his blog or posts in his forums have been forever lost. At least all those done since the last “good backups” of each of the sites he maintains.

I've lost data to hard drive and other hardware failures in the past. Each time, I say that I've learned my lesson and take an oath to do daily/weekly backups of all important data. That plan usually lasts for a few weeks and then live without adequate backup protection continues.

I almost lost all hope of adequate backups back in the Tape Drive Backup Days. It seemed that these backup tapes almost never completed a successful recoverable backup of data. However, today, things to do seem a little more hopeful.

In the past, I relied so heavily on the operating system and computer program backups. Today, it appears that as long as I keep my most important data organized in a single directory on my drive, I could recover within hours if I simply had a solid backup of that folder with all the sub folders of data that I have saved.

The question is, what is the best technique of backup up this valuable data? Is it external drives, Raid5, Drobo? Is it online backup? I think that for true security, it is best to use more than one approach. However, so many of us today, still do all our computing with no such backup program in place at all.

Since starting my own business, data backup has been a high priority on my project list. At the core, I have an external hard drive hooked up to my computer and I use the paid version of Allway Sync to keep my Important Docs and Podcast Archives folders consistently synced with my external backup drive. I must say that I really do love this little software package as it gives me a ton of control over what gets synced and I can choose to have it sync both ways so that when I delete something on my local drive it keeps it on the backup or it deletes the it off the backup drive as well.

The only issue here is that if I have a fire in my home, I'm going to loose both my hard drive and the external drive both and therefore loose all my data regardless of how diligent I am with keeping everything backed up.

I could get more than one external drive and allow for multiple backups to multiple external drive and store all but the current one off site. However, who on earth will keep up with that? This is why I'm looking into also creating an online, off site, backup solution in conjunction with my external drive backup.

I'm currently looking at Carbonite Online Backup, Mozy Online Backup, as well as using Amazon's S3 Web Services with a program called Jungle Disk.

As I move forward into into my search for the right backup solution that works best for me, I'll do my best to come share what I learn with you.

Of course, I really would encourage some community discussion here in the comments section. What sort of things are you doing in the area of backup?

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