We all know our data is precious but how robust is your data backup strategy?

Jack Schofield’s Second Law of Computing asserts that data doesn’t really exist unless you have two copies of it. It might sound a bit extreme but if you’ve ever lost a phone full of contacts and photos, or had a hard drive stuffed with precious data fail, then you’ll have learned the hard way the importance of constant and up-to-date data multiple backups.

One of the reasons why so many people fail to keep their data safe with a backup is that it involves effort. This friction in the process will tend to mean that those of us who are too busy, too disorganised or just too plain lazy to get their backup strategy organised will come a cropper sooner or later.

Those of us lucky enough to enjoy life under a corporate umbrella, complete with firewalls, multiple layers of security and secure, automatic offsite data backups can feel smug at this stage, knowing that someone else is helping take care of all that precious data. However, even though I have the benefit of such security with my work devices and data, I cannot and should not access them to secure my personal data. For this I need a ‘Plan B’.

Cloud services, which often feature automatic off-site / off-device backups, certainly help to take some of the friction out of keeping data safe. Fears of hackers, or even government officials, getting their hands on this remotely stored data might stop some of us using these popular cloud-based personal back up services such as Box, Apple’s iCloud or Dropbox. They run on a subscription basis, so be ready to fork out something like ten dollars a month for enough space to back up a typical mobile device. This constant cost, plus worries about snooping, mean some people are turning away from third party backup services, choosing fixed price products like Lima or Meem instead.

Lima is a hardware interface that allows you to remotely back up mobile devices to an external hard drive. It plugs into your home or office router via an ethernet cable. An app is installed on the device to help administer the backups, which can be performed from anywhere where you have a mobile or wi-fi signal.

Meem is another hardware system partnering with an app to help run automatic backups but it is unique in that it also doubles as a charger. You simply plug your Android or Apple phone into the charger cable and Meem does the rest, backing up the data sets you’ve selected via the app in the background while it simultaneously refuels the battery. Your mobile device is like a new born baby that constantly needs feeding, so you’re almost forced to maintain regular, up-to-date backups. I’ve been using one for a couple of weeks now and it all works wonderfully. The app is intuitive and easy to use and the charger cable is robust and flexible - it looks built to last. The makers are marketing the product not just on this ease of use but also on the perceived privacy issues surrounding third-party backup services. As long as you don’t lose the cable, your data stays safely in your hands.

The disadvantages of a solution like Lima and Meem is that you must ensure the physical safe-keeping of your data backups. For this reason I suggest you don’t take the Meem out with you, but leave it safely plugged in at your home or office so it stays separate from your device, thus minimising the chance of loosing both simultaneously. Even if someone breaks in and steals the cable, they can’t get at your data as access to the backup is secured by a PIN and each Meem cable will only work with the specific device it is registered to.

Meem is just one part of my personal data backup strategy. I don’t use iCloud for my Apple devices, preferring not to send any more of my hard earned cash to Cupertino. Instead, I keep multiple backups across a range of physical devices at different locations. If I sound paranoid it’s because I have suffered at the hands of Schofield’s Law and know from bitter personal experience how true his words are. If you don’t have at least two copies of the data it is only a matter of time before you have no data at all.

We take security seriously at Orange Business Servics, read more about securing your corporate data here.

Glenn Le Santo
Glenn Le Santo

Editor in Chief, International, at Orange Business. I'm in charge of our International website and the English language blogs at Orange Business. In my spare time I'm literally captain of my own ship, spending my time on the wonderful rivers and canals of England.