Recently we had a client that had a hard drive crash on a server.  This client had a Linux server running in a “mirrored configuration” mode.  What does that mean?  That simply means there were two hard drives running in the server and one drive was a mirror image of the other. This arrangement cuts down on the possibility of loosing data due to corruption.

We ended up replacing both drives since the cost of doing so is easily out-weighed by the disadvantages of not doing so.  If you want to know more about this, please ask.

When the client heard how much it was all going to cost and how long it was going to take, she asked “Isn’t this what backups are for?”  It was then that I realized that perhaps I needed to write an article on exactly what is the difference between a “backup” and an “imaging” or “snapshot” system.

First, what is a backup?  Typically a backup system, whether to tape, floppy drives, USB Drives or a disk-to-disk” system, you are only making a copy of important data.  You are not making a copy of the operating system.  So, if you lose your computer to fire, theft, flood or just plain a crash, the computer system has to be rebuilt and all the application software, i.e. MS Office, Auto-CAD, Adobe Creative Suite, etc., has to be reinstalled.

Once the system is rebuilt, then you copy your data back to the computer from your backup device.  This can be a long drawn out process. Think of it this way…your computer is of no value to you withOUT your data, but also, your data is of no value to you without the operating system and application.  But at least you didn’t lose your data, i.e. word documents, spreadsheets, photographs, etc.

There is another type of backup available these days that we refer to as “imaging” systems.  We use one in our own operation.  Every single night a complete “image” of all our computers is made on our imaging server.  This includes the operating system, the application software and all the data.  This way if one of our PC’s crashes, we put in a new HDD, boot up with the special CD that comes with our imaging system and it puts everything back as though nothing ever went wrong.  This is by far the best type of backup system to have.

But, we go one step further.  That imaging system is located in our shop where most of our computers are.  So, we have the imaging server backed up every night to a backup service located in Evansville In.  So, we have a backup of our backup.  Are we paranoid?  Perhaps.  But, we shouldn’t ever lose any of our data.

I almost forget, our email service is provided by Tri-State Datacom which has our email running on a Hosted Exchange Server in Cached Exchange Mode.  What does that mean…we will never ever loose any of our email, contacts, phone contacts or calendar.  EVER! Can you say that?

If you wish more information about any of the above, just drop us a note.  We’ll be happy to provide you with some information free of charge.  We’ll also be happy to provide a quote for you on a backup solution.

P.S.  The imaging server we use can be installed on a small network of 10 or less computers and can be used to also share data, i.e. pictures, music, documents etc, in your office.  We can install one for you for under $1,000, which includes the server, installation and installation on one PC.  Other PC’s can be setup for $100 each.  This offer is good for clients in Daviess County KY.  Other locations will require additional fees due to travel.

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