Personal Data Backup technique – HSM Defined

Personal Data Backup technique – HSM Defined

Backing up your personal information is a fairly easy thing to do. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Below is an explanation of what is done in all competent large companies. I am personalizing it so you as an individual can understand why it is important, and how to simply protect yourself from data loss. Here we go:

hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) is a concept and a process. NOT a product. There are “Products” that execute the concept and process. But do not confuse the two.

HSM all about managing cost, availability, security, risk, and process. Information is very valuable to companies and to individuals. HSM is a “Structured Architecture”, and the processes necessary to secure and retain information.

Generally HSM is implemented with a three or more tier architecture.


- Transactional layer data that changes often. Level – 1
- A point in time copy of that information either in whole, or in partial sections. Level – 2
- Another copy that is kept in a remote place. Sometimes called an “Archive copy”. Level – 3

Important to note that in companies, there is usually a separate log of the data that has changed that represents the changed data between level 1 and level 2. If you perform a back-up every week, the log would represent the data that changed during that time.

Important to also note that the cost of the media and technologies are ranked as follows, Level 1 is the most expensive and best performance. Followed by level 2, and level 3 respectfully.

At issue and why this is important is simply explained as follows:

IF and WHEN level 1 data (The data in your active systems like on the drive in your notebook or desktop machine.) is corrupted for any of a number of reasons, that data can be replaced by the level 2 data and updated with the data in the log file to get to a current state again of un-corrupted data. You as an individual won’t keep a log, but for purposes of this example, that is how it is done in business environments. Level 3 data is always recommended as an “Off site” copy in Archive, in case a disaster happens, and both level 1 and 2 are corrupted, or lost. (Think, Fire, Flood, Earthquake, Tornado, Vandalism, user errors or other un-natural disasters.)

That is a simplistic overview of the Architecture reasoning for HSM.

This architecture is useless if the proper “Process” is not followed meticulously.

The process is relatively simple. Perform a rhythmic backup or refresh of the level 1, 2, and 3 data. Depending on different factors, the timing is a personal decision. How much data is involved? How long does it take to back up? What are the tolerances of downtime, and costs? I recommend you back everything up at least every 3 months. Every month is better.

Lots of variables to consider. But, for as little as a few hundred dollars, and a small bit of time every three months you will have an insurance policy for your data. The key is to make informed decisions before it is too late and there is a data loss of any kind.

Let me tell you the difference between an inconvenience and a disaster. An inconvenience is when your system disk crashes and you need to purchase a new drive and reload your data from either level 2 or 3. A DISASTER is when that same system crashes and you have lost all of your data with no backup copy and it is gone forever with no way to recover it. (Pictures, music, email, everything!)

Call to action:
1.) Purchase the proper kind of backup device. Could be as easy and as inexpensive as a CD or DVD if you do not have a lot of information. Or a few add-on disk drives at about $100 each if you have hundreds of Gigabytes of data.
2.) Perform your first back-up of your data, and relocate that level-3 media offsite in a remote place.
3.) In three months do it again! Think of this a very inexpensive insurance policy for your personal information.
4.) Spread the word. Send this blog post to your friends family, and associates. They will thank you one day.
5.) Subscribe to this blog on the home page for more advice and tips on how to “Tame the data Deluge” in our personal lives.


Peter Gailey
The Personal Information Coach


3 thoughts on “Personal Data Backup technique – HSM Defined

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