Storage solutions and backing up of data

As an organization, protection of data should be a priority in implementing IT policies. Whilst many organizations have some form of anti-virus protection in place, the need for backing up data as a security measure is often misunderstood or not a priority. As part of a disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan, access to data should be a seamless process to return the workforce to full working order and to also avoid downtime. An organization never realises the importance of remote data till it’s too late. If the worst was to happen (natural disasters, theft or file corruption), the wasted hours an organization potentially face, could cost more than implementing an online backup solution. A number of companies provide online backup services for subscribers whose computers are connected to the Internet, automatically copying selected files to backup storage at the service provider's location. A wide range of online backup services are available to suit needs ranging from those of individual consumers to those of large enterprises. For medium-sized and large enterprises or for particularly valuable data, the cost of online backup can prove to be a wise investment (1).


Data should be encrypted before it is sent across the internet, and it should be stored in its encrypted state. Encryption should be at least 256 bits, and the user should have the option of using his own encryption key, which should never be sent to the server. Encryption scrambles data to make it unreadable. Only persons with the password “key” can unscramble, or decrypt, the information. This not only prevents identity theft but also protects you and the university from unnecessary liability if your device or email is stolen, hacked or otherwise breached.


The primary purpose of encryption is to protect the confidentiality of digital data stored on computer systems or transmitted via the Internet or other computer networks. Modern encryption algorithms play a vital role in the security assurance of IT systems and communications as they can provide not only confidentiality, but also the following key elements of security:

  • Authentication:the origin of a message can be verified.
  • Integrity: proof that the contents of a message have not been changed since it was sent.
  • Non-repudiation:the sender of a message cannot deny sending the message (2).

BantuTech Recommendations:

Flash Drives

BantuTech recommends Ironkey hardware-encrypted flash drives to protect your data when you need a portable and secure data storage solution. If you lose the flash drive your data is protected by AES hardware encryption.

BitLocker Drive Encryption

Included as part of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions, BitLocker encrypts an entire drive. A drive can be password-protected, decrypted or BitLocker can be temporarily suspended at any time by the authorized user.


From the Start button, type BitLocker into the search. Choose BitLocker Drive Encryption.

Tutorial on setting up BitLocker

Mac FileVault 2

For those using Macs, BantuTech recommends using Mac FileVault 2 available from the Security & Privacy pane of System Preferences on Mac OS. Click the FileVault tab in the pane to enable or disable FileVault.

FileVault Disk Encryption
FileVault Disk Encryption

Network backup

A backup service supporting network backup can back up multiple computers, servers or Network Attached Storage appliances on a local area network from a single computer or device.

For Network Backups, BantuTech recommends AMANDA:


AMANDA, the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, is a backup solution that allows the IT administrator to set up a single master backup server to back up multiple hosts over network to tape drives/changers or disks or optical media. Amanda uses native utilities and formats (e.g. dump and/or GNU tar) and can back up a large number of servers and workstations running multiple versions of Linux or UNIX. Amanda uses a native Windows client to backup Microsoft Windows desktops and servers (3).

Continuous backup - Continuous Data Protection

Allows the service to back up continuously or on a predefined schedule. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Most backup services are schedule-based and perform backups at a predetermined time. Some services provide continuous data backups which are used by large financial institutions and large online retailers. However, there is typically a tradeoff with performance and system resources.

Recommended Software: IBM® Tivoli®(4)

File-by-File Restore

The ability for users to restore files themselves, without the assistance of a Service Provider by allowing the user select files by name and/or folder. Some services allow users to select files by searching for filenames and folder names, by dates, by file type, by backup set, and by tags.

Differential data compression

A way to further minimize network traffic is to transfer only the binary data that has changed from one day to the next, similar to the open source file transfer service Rsync. More advanced online backup services use this method rather than transfer entire files.

BantuTech Recommends: Rsync


rsync is a fast and extraordinarily versatile file copying tool. It can copy locally, to/from another host over any remote shell, or to/from a remote rsync daemon. It offers a large number of options that control every aspect of its behavior and permit very flexible specification of the set of files to be copied. It is famous for its delta-transfer algorithm, which reduces the amount of data sent over the network by sending only the differences between the source files and the existing files in the destination. Rsync is widely used for backups and mirroring and as an improved copy command for everyday use.

Off-Line Backup

Off-Line Backup allows along with and as part of the online backup solution to cover daily backups in time when network connection is down. At this time the remote backup software must perform backup onto a local media device like a tape drive, a disk or another server. The minute network connection is restored remote backup software will update the remote datacentre with the changes coming out of the off-line backup media .


Many services support data synchronization allowing users to keep a consistent library of all their files across many computers. The technology can help productivity and increase access to data.


1. What is online backup (remote backup)? - Definition from [Internet]. SearchStorage. 2016 [cited 21 April 2016]. Available from: What is encryption? - Definition from [Internet]. SearchSecurity. 2016 [cited 21 April 2016]. Available from: Amanda Network Backup: Open Source Backup for Linux, Windows, UNIX and OS X [Internet]. 2016 [cited 21 April 2016]. Available from: IBM - Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files [Internet]. 2016 [cited 21 April 2016]. Available from:

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