World Backup Day: The Evolution of Backups and Why We Need Them

MARCH 29TH, 2019
In celebration of the upcoming World Backup Day (March 31st), this post is dedicating to remembering the importance of backups and looking at how far we’ve come in the data storage industry. The evolution of technology has made it so the majority of our days consist of some form of data consumption. Whether we’re online on a phone, laptop, desktop, iPad, or game console, the average Westerner rarely disconnects, contributing to the infinite amount of data now floating in cyberspace.
To be specific, hordes of data are being created and stored by businesses big and small every single day. The overwhelming amount of information created by a business has been fittingly termed “big data.” This refers to any giant structured or unstructured data set. To structure this data takes proper storing and sorting technologies. To protect it takes advanced backup tech. These technologies have changed drastically over the years to accommodate the sheer amount of information that any single business collects. For example, manual sorting methods have taken a back seat to machine learning. Algorithms are now able to sort and analyze obscene amounts of data quickly and efficiently. But what about storage? And equally as important, what about backups? Of course, the introduction of the cloud was huge for both, but what preceded it? To celebrate World Backup Day (March 31st), we wanted to break down the history of backups to show you where they began, where they are now, and why.

Punch Cards

The first generation of digital computers used punch cards for external backups of computer commands. As you’d imagine, these punch cards were simply sheets of paper that had dots on them, which you punched and then copied for backup protection. Punch cards were around until the late ‘80s but rarely used at that point, and they’re now completely discontinued and obsolete.

Magnetic Drums, Tapes, CDs, and DVDs

First used in World War II by the U.S. Navy, magnetic drums could hold up to five formatted .doc files at a time. Magnetic tapes followed these, a technology that many businesses still use today. Think classic cassette and video cassette tapes as examples of magnetic tapes. Basically, a person records data on these and then store them in a secure, off-site facility.
When Floppy disks, CD Roms, and DVDs became popular in the ‘90s, they replaced magnetic tapes as a go-to backup staple. The main reason? Colleagues could share the data on these disks with ease from computer to computer. What all these methods have in common is a need to store these backups separately from a business’ headquarters. If something happened at your main office, like a fire or flood, these backups would be destroyed alongside all the data they substituted. Plus, they take up a lot of space.

Hard Drives and Flash Drives

Though they were introduced in the mid-’60s, hard drive technologies weren’t perfected for public use until the ‘90s. Even today, individuals and businesses rely on hard drives as their main source of backups. They were adequate before the big data boom, but at the rate that businesses produce data today, they aren’t much of a viable option for proper backups anymore. They have limited capacity and are, therefore, expensive to scale up. There’s also the issue with having to store them off-site in case of emergency. In a similar vein, flash drives don’t offer the storage capacity necessary to maintain the amount of backups businesses require.

The Cloud

A data storage and backup revolution came about with the launch of cloud technology in the 2000s. Now, businesses can maintain all backups in multiple locations digitally. That means they can access them any time, anywhere, from any connected device. Plus, the capacity of a cloud can be increased by scaling out, or adding space as businesses need it, saving them money in the long run. Data backups are a business’ first line of defense in case of a ransomware attack or natural disaster. If a flood or storm hits a company’s main office, there's a high chance plenty of imperative data will be completely irretrievable. StorageCraft offers easy-to-recover backups stored on a secure, reliable cloud. We safeguard businesses like yours from anything that comes their way. Contact us today to learn more about our cloud backup and recovery solutions or request a demo to see our products in action.

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