Determining a Personal Data Retention Strategy


If you spent any time in the IT world you’re likely to be particularly tuned to the threat risk of losing data. Losing data sucks, and it’s one of the sneaky kind of risks, where everything is 100% ok until it is 0% so.

So why is it any different for our personal data? It’s rhetorical; it’s no different at all. Losing all your personal data would still be devastating. There are varying degrees of devastation, of course: one could lose anything from his porn collection gathered over ten years to scanned images of family albums that have since been lost.

It all comes down to one question that I encourage everyone to ask in a serious tone of voice: How bad off would I be–in terms of data loss–if I were to lose all IT-related content in my house?

So, we’re talking a fire, a flood, or a break-in where all your servers/workstations/laptops/harddrives are now gone.

Where are your pictures? All your recorded content from your life? Do you have any off-site backup at all, or are you completely done for? I don’t like my current answer to that question, so I am handling it.

Step 1 is determining what would happen if your current system died. This is basic harddrive defense 101 (which most still aren’t even doing). In other words, what would happen if you were to lose your main hard drive?

My solution to Step 1 is the use of a NAS, which is a four-disk redundant disk array that gives my household 6TB of very fast and highly fault-tolerant storage. But this doesn’t solve the fire/flood/theft scenario.

I think my solution to a Level 2 crisis is going to be cloud–specifically Amazon S3 storage. I was thinking about taking my old NAS and shipping it off-site with a current snapshot of my data on it, but that’s pretty kludgy. Plus, it’s easy to just get lazy and forget it.

I think sending the data to the cloud is the way to go–for me at least. The NAS gives you the 95% safety rating, and then the cloud backup gives you the rest. I’m really not too worried about Amazon losing my data; I think it’s far more likely to disappear with me than with them.

So that’s my solution, and I am curious as to what yours are. Most importantly, however, I’m trying to get those who don’t have a solution to realize that they have a problem waiting to happen, and to take action.


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