How has data changed over the years | backuppc

How has Backup Changed Over the Years?


The field of information technology is changing rapidly so the attributes related to it are also evolving quickly. Data is one of the most important aspects of information technology systems and handling data is one of the major concerns from the beginning of computer history. Data can be anything that contains some value.

This article will focus on the evolution of backup and how it has changed over the years but let’s have an overview of what backup is?

Backup is one the major concept related to the data. So, Data Backup is basically the process of duplicating the data to allow the retrieval of duplicate data or restore a data in the previous state in case of any data loss. Data loss can be a horror story for any business organization and even for an individual, just take an example of all photos of your family you saved on the computer you surely don’t want to lose all the memories.

Types of Backup

There are different types of backups that can be used according to the needs of the system. Different resources and time are needed for every kind of backup.

  • Full backup

As reflected from the name, it takes backup of everything on the system, each file, and folder. It is usually time taking and requires a lot of resources. There are also several advantages of the full backup, all the data is backed up at one backup set. It makes the complete recovery of data very easy.

  • Incremental Backup

Incremental backup will only take the backup of the files changed since the last backup was performed. The resources required for incremental backup depends upon the time since the last backup was taken. Usually, it requires fewer data storage space. Its disadvantage is that the data recovery is slow as compared to full backup.

  • Differential Backup

Differential backup and the incremental backups are almost the same, the difference is that differential backup takes the backup since the last full backup of the system. It also requires fewer data storage space but the process of backing up the data is slower than the incremental backup.

History of Backup

Change is one of the important phenomena in this world. To keep up with the pace of the world you need to adopt the change. Computer backups have changed a lot in the span of the last century. Traditional backups have been ruled out as they never exist, and the new backup methods and storage have taken their place.

Let’s have a look at how computer backups have changed over the period since the evolution of computers.

Punch Cards

Punch Cards can be referenced as the very first backup storage device. They were present even before the invention of computers. They were used for storage and external backup in the first generation of digital computers in 1951. Punch cards were commonly used for the computer programming till the late 1980s. As the name suggests, they were a sheet of paper lined with dots on them. They were punched to store the computer commands. They had very limited storage and their processing speed was too slow. Backup was taken on another copy of punch card. The additional copy was used to restore the data in case of a loss. Nowadays we do not see any punch card devices and they have gone obsolete.

Magnetic Drum

Taushek invented the magnetic drum. It was one big step in data storage. It contained 5 .doc formatted files. Magnetic drum technology was first used in the computers by US Navy in the World War 2. It was a 16 inches long drum with 40 tracks that spun around. The magnetic drum was created with different elements such as long metal cylinder coated in a magnetic material. Magnetic Drums were a common means of storage and backup till late ’60s.

Magnetic Tapes

As mentioned above, Punch Cards have been a great source for backups but the process the data at the very slow speed and there were a lot of storage issues. Magnetic tapes were invented that overcome these issues. Magnetic Tapes were introduced in the late 1960s and were in use until the late 1990s. Videocassettes and tapes are one of the most common examples of the magnetic tapes. They have the capacity to store as much data as almost 10,000 punch cards can store. These magnetic tapes were then used for creating the backups. The magnetic tapes are reliable and have a low cost.

Hard Drives

One of the major inventions that revolutionized the data storage and backup is hard drives. They were introduced by the IBM in 1965, since then they have been improved with the time and we are still using the latest kind of hard disks in our computers. In the early days of the invention, hard drives were not suitable for backing up the data but in the late 90’s as the technology improved and storage capacity increased, hard drives began to take place of magnetic tapes for data backup.

Floppy Disks

With the invention of floppy disks, the concept of portable data storage or data backup comes into place. Floppy disk was though as a revolutionary media as it can transfer the data from one computer to another computer easily. It was introduced in 1969, in the beginning, it had data storage capacity in KB’s but in the late ’80s the capacity increased to almost 250 MB. They were a strong medium for data backup as they were cheap and can be easily handled. Many of the household users and companies start using the floppy disks for data backup.

CDs and DVDs

CDs and DVDs appear as an alternative of the floppy disks. CDs have a storage capacity of 700 MB and DVDs can contain almost 4GB of data which is huge as compared to the capacity of floppy disks. In the late ’90s, floppy disks were almost gone, and CDs and DVDs have taken its place for data backup.

Flash Drives

We can say that the modern era of the data storage and data backups is all about USB and external hard drives. USBs can contain multiple gigabytes of data and external hard drives have the capacity of multiple terabytes at a lower cost. With all these characteristics, these media have become a powerful source for data backups.

The Cloud era

This era is also referred to as the cloud era. The cloud technology was introduced in 2006, with the improvement in internet bandwidth and an increase in data amount the cloud technology is getting popular and is one of the most preferred methods of storage and data backups. The Cloud is estimated to contain more than 1 exabyte of data in 2013.


We have tried to give a comprehensive overview of data storage devices and how the data backup has changed over time. It shows that keeping the backup of data is critical and you should always take backup of your important data.

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