How do you know if you’re computer network is fully protected? What type of overall backup strategy does your company employ? Do you still use tape backup and then have those tapes taken off-site on a daily basis? Or maybe you backup to portable USB drives? And do you just backup your data, or do you currently have a system in place that protects your entire server? Maybe you’re one of those companies that’s just holding on tight and hoping that you never run into an issue where you need that backup?
As you are well aware of, your company’s data and computer network are the life-blood of your company, and protecting those assets is vital to your future. So how do you create a “fool proof” system to protect yourself?
On this page we’ll answer all of your backup questions and concerns, and introduce you to a new and affordable backup technology for small business.
6 Parts of a (nearly) foolproof backup system
If you build a backup strategy that consists of these 6 components, you will have a backup (and recovery) system that will get you through disasters and events of all shapes and sizes. The strategy below is a multi-tiered strategy designed for multiple backup and recovery situations … and you can put this strategy and the supporting technology together at a very reasonable cost.
1. On-Premise full server backup
By using a full server backup solution, you not only backup your data files, but you actually backup everything that is on the hard drives of the server. This means that in the event of a disaster, you can simply replace the hard drive (or the entire PC), restore the backup image back onto the hard drive and everything will back just as it was prior to the disaster … and I mean everything. Personal settings and configurations, documents, applications, email … everything.
2. Utilize online backup to get a copy of your vital data off-site
Getting a copy of your data offsite, or better yet the image of your drives, is important. If a thief breaks into your office tonight and steals your server, some desktops and all of your backup tapes, you’d better have a copy of all of that valuable data someplace off-site.
The same is true if your building was to go up in flames, or if by some occurrence, the sprinkler system in your building was triggered and your server and backup tapes were soaked for 20-30 minutes. Simply put, you need a copy of your data off-site.
Now, how your data gets off-site is the thing. Online backup is secure and is very reasonably priced. We backup to local datacenter that we can walk into a gather your data in the case of an emergency. Unlike some other online solutions can take a lot of time to recover your data or charge you hundreds of dollars to ship your data to you on a temporary drive.
Create a schedule that reflects how rapidly your data changes
4. When was the last time you visually verified that the backup is accurate and accessible?
You need to test it on a regular basis.
The only way for you to know that your backup is “successful” is to test the recovery of it. Someone (onsite IT Administrator, owner, IT Support Company) needs to have a consistent schedule for verifying that the backup was successful. They need to go through a scheduled routine of verifying that the data can be pulled from the backup media and restored to the computer.
Usually this means going to the server and deleting a non-vital file, then going to the backup media and restoring the file. Chances are if you can do this for one file then the rest will be able to be restored also. This process needs to be done on a regular basis and again should be scheduled based on the nature of your data. The test restore will only take someone 5-10 minutes, (or less) so doing the test once a week, once a month or once a quarter should be reasonable. Performing test restores of databases can be more complicated, and should be performed by a skilled IT person.
Do a test restore of your data TODAY, and put a tickler in your calendar to do it regularly from this point forward.
5. Having a standby server
The ability for businesses to create standby servers has created some really great opportunities for the affordable creation of a quick disaster recovery for their business. For more detailed information on this please feel free to reach out for a conversation … but basically because you have a “clone” of the hard drive on your server you have the possibility of having a standby server with the same capabilities of your normal server for a fraction of the cost. Your standby server continually copies the server’s hard drive onto itself, day after day. If the normal server ever goes down (hard drives fail, power surge fries the motherboard …) the failover server can replace it in about an hour.
This means that your employees are only interrupted for a short period of time, rather than being out of commission for a day or two while the computer guys scramble to purchase a new server (or new parts), reload and re-configure the operating system, reload all of the applications, re-configure all of the users, re-map drives and restore all of the data and user files … whew! That’s a ton of time for employees to waste while all this happens.
6. Create a simple yet comprehensive Business Continuity Plan
There has been a lot of ‘buzz’ lately about Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning. A lot of this buzz started with the sad and unexpected happenings on 9/11 and continued with the disasters that New Orleans experienced.
It is absolutely critical that every business, big and small, have a plan of action to respond to disasters, big and small. The plan needs to be clear and it needs to be laid out with specific individuals within the business – each assuming specific roles. It needs to be functional and it needs to be updated at least annually as the business and staff change.
Your Business Continuity Plan cannot be filled with fluff, and for small and mid sized businesses, it cannot be hundreds and hundreds of pages. You need to get your head around the reality of the potential disaster that is directly in front of you. Our Business Continuity web page gives a good example of what a simple yet complete Disaster Recovery Plan might look like.