Blog Post

How has Backup Changed Over the Years?

Remember these?

Those were the days, right? Who didn’t love spending three hours trying to copy your data to a floppy disk or CD only to find out it didn’t work! No one. But it was cutting edge; the fast track to being tech savvy.

Luckily for us, backup solutions like everything else, have become faster, bigger, and better.

The handling of that data has been one of the major concerns from the beginning of computer history. Data can be anything that contains some value.

Data is one of the most critical aspects of IT and protecting it is invaluable. See how backup has evolved over time to become bigger, faster, and better.

An Overview of What Backup Is

Backup is one of the major concepts related to data. Data backup is the process of duplicating specific data/information to allow the retrieval of duplicate/restore said data to the previous state. This most effectively can relate to data loss should, for example, your system fail.

Data loss can be a horror story for any business organization and even for an individual. For example, take all of your family photos that you have spent years collecting on your computer or all of the music you have spent copious amounts of time download and organizing. You surely don’t want to lose all of those memories or time.

Types of Backup

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

1. Full Backup

As reflected from the name, it takes backup of everything on the system, each file, and folder. It is usually time-consuming 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.

2. 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.

3. 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

Computer backups have changed a lot in the last century. Traditional backups have been ruled out and made completely obsolete, as though they never existed, and new backup methods and storage have taken their place.

How have computer backups have changed over time?

1.  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 late 1980’s. 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 minimal 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.

2. Magnetic Drum

G. Taushek first 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 computers by US Navy in the World War II. 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 60’s.

3. Magnetic Tapes

As mentioned above, Punch Cards were an excellent source for backup, but it processed the data at the very slow speed, and there were many storage issues. Magnetic tapes were invented to overcome these issues. Magnetic tapes were introduced in the late 1960’s and were in use until the late 1990’s. Videocassettes and tapes are one of the most common examples of the magnetic tapes. They had the capacity to store as much data as almost 10,000 punch cards could store. These magnetic tapes were then used for creating reliable backups and could be produced at a meager cost.

4. 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.

5. 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 80’s the capacity increased to almost 250 MB. They were a reliable medium for data backup as they were cheap and could be easily handled. Many of the household users and companies start using the floppy disks for data backup.

6. CDs and DVDs

CDs and DVDs soon appeared as an alternative of the floppy disks. CDs have a storage capacity of 700 MB and DVDs can contain almost 4GB of data which was vast compared to the capacity of floppy disks. Once the late 90’s rolled around floppy disks were virtually gone, and CDs and DVDs have taken its place for data backup.

7. 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 several terabytes at a lower cost. With all these characteristics, this type of media has become an authoritative source for data backups. It provides an easy way to back up data at a low cost. Flash drives will likely continue to be a staple among college students and engineers alike for some time, even with new backup trends emerging.

8. The Cloud Era

Cloud technology was introduced in 2006, with the improvement in internet bandwidth and an increase in data capacity, cloud technology is quickly gaining traction and catching the attention of not only consumers but also enterprises. It has recently become one of the most preferred methods of storage and data backups. The Cloud was estimated to contain more than 1 exabyte of data in 2013. That is an insane amount of data!


Data has become a driving force behind how everyday decisions are made and how we navigate through the digital world. What do you think will be the next innovation in the data backup world? Let us know in the comments below.

While you’re at it, give Rebit a try. We believe protecting your data should be simple…ridiculoulsy simple. Rebit allows you to easily back up your data locally and to the cloud. Try it for free here.


  • A History of Removable Computer Storage. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  • Bits & Bytes: A History of Data Storage. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  • Evolution of Data Backup. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  • The Evolution of Data Storage – Take a Look at 14 Devices in the History of Data Storage. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  • The History of Backup. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.
  • The History of Data Backup – Centre Technologies. Accessed 16 Oct. 2018.

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