Planning For Disaster: Data Backup and Recovery

small-business-data-backupIn the constantly evolving technology driven world, companies struggle with increasing amount of data being stored on the networks of small and medium-sized businesses, which users want to be able to access wherever they are from a variety of devices, including smart phones, tablets and laptops.

Imagine for a moment that one day you go to work to find that all your company data – emails, documents, databases, contact lists, accounting data, billing information, etc. – has simply vanished, permanently. Gone is everything that makes your company what it is and that has allowed it to operate and grow as a business. How soon can this data be recovered, and what can be the impact of this loss to your business?

With the growing value of data as a strategic corporate asset, data backup and its recovery is possibly the most important part of your IT infrastructure. Odds are that at some point your company will experience a computer crash, virus, or some other disaster that will affect your data storage. Without a well thought out data protection strategy you are placing your business at risk for eventual disaster. The challenge is to implement a reliable backup and recovery solution in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.

Threats to your business and your data range from acts of nature, such as earthquakes, and floods; to crashed servers or corrupted hard drives; to simple data loss caused by employees walking out the door with laptops or USB drives. Think of backup and disaster recovery as an insurance policy for your data.  Just as you would never consider driving a car without auto insurance, you shouldn’t use data without having data recovery insurance.backup-recovery

Getting it right

So what makes an effective data backup strategy? The first step is to know what needs to be backed up and archived. Backups are copies of active data for short-term use and are frequently overwritten with updated versions. Archives, on the other hand, contain static data, such as inactive document files and old emails.

An effective data backup plan consists of five parts:

1. Plan for data backup

a)      What data needs to be backed up

b)      Where to keep the backup

c)       Store a full backup at another location or online to protect against fire, theft or other disaster

d)      Quarterly or annual backup for critical data.

2. Create a backup routine

a)      Data backups to be regular scheduled daily tasks

b)      Who will backup data

c)       Wherever possible automate the backup process.

3. Custom backup strategy for business needs

a)      Determine the best schedule for data backup based on how often the data changes.

b)      Supplement full backups with incremental backups.

4. Test the backup periodically

a)      Ensure backup data fidelity by attempting to restore them to an alternate location. This will bring out any flaws or corrupt data before it is too late.

b)      Use backup applications that generate a reports or logs to quickly identify any problems or skipped files in the backup job.

5. Backup of a backup of a backup

a)  A backup is more than simply moving email, financial documents or other important files off to an external hard drive or removable disk. Simply moving data from one location to another isn’t giving you any extra protection in case disaster strikes. If there aren’t at least two separate copies of your data, it isn’t a backup at all.

b)   While a single backup may be a good start (two copies of irreplaceable files), there is still some risk for data loss, especially if both copies are kept in the same location.

c)  The best protection against data loss, especially from catastrophic events, is having at least three copies of your data (the original files, an easily-accessible backup and a protected copy of your backup). While some large companies may use dedicated off-site data storage services for this, a business doesn’t have to be big to have three copies of your data. Even something as simple as using an inexpensive online backup service to keep a third copy of the data is sufficient.

Any business that cares about the security of its data needs to have an effective backup strategy to guard against inevitable data loss. Given the overall negative impact permanent data loss can have on a company, a data backup and recovery strategy that is effective is essential.

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