Data storage and backup goes back to 1951 when the first generation of digital computing made use of rotating magnetic drums (for internal data storage) and punch cards (for external storage). Punch cards are revered as the first data backup ‘vehicle’ because additional copies of punch cards could restore data in the event of loss.

And the floppy disk was a phenomenal device, introduced to the IT market almost forty years ago. In 1971 Alan Shugart delivered the commercially viable floppy disk. Small companies or individuals with limited stored data used floppy disks to transport that data if not for backup purposes. Data backup methods have evolved – yet it is interesting to reminisce about the bygone days, when a variety of backup gadgets appeared on the digital landscape.

Backup Tradition Begins with Magnetic Tapes in 1960s

With the volume of punch cards requiring many devices as well as processing time, magnetic tapes became popular. A single roll of magnetic tape could store the equivalent of 10,000 punch cards, prompting both large and small companies to create tape backups. Present today, tape backup is a reliable and cost-effective backup solution.

Hard Drive Drives the Change in 1980s

HDD technology has improved significantly since the world’s first hard drive, IBM 305 RAMAC was introduced in 1956. With the implementation of multiple hard drives to share and replicate data, hard disks started to replace tapes as the preferred backup solutions in the mid-80s.

CDs and DVDs Make Waves in 1990s

In the 90s, backup on CD and DVDs became popular for businesses as well as individuals; it pushed floppy drives to the edge of extinction.

Portable Flash Drives Reign in 1998

The arch nemesis of the floppy disk, USB storage devices won the world over because of its compact size and capacity to store more data than a CD-ROM. Even now, as you read this blog, flash drives have become a powerful contender in the data backup arena. Introduced to the world in 2000, flash drives are known to store as much as 256GB data without problem.

2006 Spells Blu-Ray Disks and HD-DVDs

With data storage capacity ranging from 23GB to 54GB, the Blu-Ray disc and HD-DVDs could be the most promising devices for future data backup.

Backup in the Clouds

Much has changed since the first punch card. Today we have new backup methods for complicated technologies and fast-expanding data volumes. Enterprises and individuals are looking for data storage and backup solutions that are small in size, faster in performance and reliable in service.

For off-site backup and recovery solutions, many enterprises are exploring cloud backup, placing their hopes as well as their data on a virtual backup model.

Future of Backup Belongs to E. Coli

Breaking news! In a process known as bio-storage, research students at Hong Kong’s Chinese University have discovered that a gram of E. Coli bacteria is capable of storing in excess of 900TB data. Hard to believe that while all kinds of computer backup devices are vulnerable to electrical failures and data theft, data storage in bacteria can ensure immunity from cyber-attacks. This is interesting news for enterprises with highly confidential information. With some bacteria resistant to nuclear radiation as well, backup data can be protected from even the most dreadful disaster in future days to come.

The bottom line: No matter what device you use, data backup matters. And enterprises need to understand how to keep their confidential data secure and retrievable with the assistance of a credible data backup solutions provider.


  1. Hi Scott,
    Great Blog! I found your E.Coli comment fascinating and would love to see a follow up blog diving deeper into that subject.

    Chris Roux

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