Tuesday, January 10th, 2006 at 9:05am

Burned CDs have a lifespan of 2 years?

Posted by Jordan Erickson

As a lot of you know, I’m big on backups. Too many people have come to me with lost data, because their hard drive crashed, developed bad sectors, or accidentally deleted crucial data. A good backup system *must* be in place if you have data you can’t afford to lose, BEFORE you lose it. Unfortunately, most people don’t think too much about it until it’s too late.

Here’s an article that talks about a particular type of backup that is very popular with smaller companies and residential type people these days – CDRs (Burnable CDs). He’s a storage expert at IBM, and says that most retail CDRs have a lifespan of only 2 years, depending on their quality. I have heard this same thing before from different sources, and have seen it first hand in a couple of cases myself.

The bottom line is, if you need to store data for the long run (yearly backup archiving, long-term offsite storage), you should consider a different route than CDRs.

Tape backup has been popular among businesses in the past, but I have worked with many tape backup systems, and to tell you the truth, I don’t like them. Tape cartridges are very fragile, contain many plastic moving parts, and are extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity. Long term storage of backup tapes (especially large capacity tapes) is a delicate process, and I would only recommend using a professional data archival company with the proper facilities if you do not have the means yourself. Also, tape backup programs are often proprietary and must be restored with the original backup program that was used. This creates a big problem if you have a total crash and don’t have the speicific version of software, ultimately leading to no recoverable data and lots of money lost in backups you originally thought were happening.

I have become a HUGE fan of hard disk backups. Let’s face it – hard drives are becoming very inexpensive, and very portable. You can purchase multi-gigabyte hard drives, and put them in USB/Firewire enclosures, back up all of your data and store them safely off-site. Hard drives are delicate as well, but they are much more durable than tapes. They also provide a medium that you can “drag ‘n drop” files onto, without any special program to recover them later. Restoration requires nothing more than hooking the drive up to a workstation / server and copying files back over.

Whatever backup plan you use, whether it is CDR, tape, hard drive, or anything else, make SURE you have a solid backup plan, and practice restoration periodically (I recommend once every couple of months at the least). If you have any questions about backups, feel free to call me at 707-636-5678 and we can talk about what would suit you best, and how to get you on a solid backup plan.

Just don’t be like the many people who wait until it’s too late! I hate seeing a grown man or woman cry! 🙂

© 2006 Logical Networking Solutions: I.T. and Networking Specialist, Lake County, CA