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What You Should Know About Backups

What You Should Know About Backups

In business, success and profitability can be greatly affected by access to the data and computers you use today. Are you confident your backup plan is solid enough to recover from a disaster? A good backup system should be automatic and complete.

Any data backup scenario should be part of a larger group of strategies knows as Business Continuity Planning or the more common term: Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP). EVERY business, large or small, should have a COOP with a solid data backup plan in its midst.

What constitutes a “Disaster”?
Before you can create any data backup plan you have to document what a “disaster” means to your business. Is it losing some core files or does it mean coming to work one morning with fire trucks in the parking lot? This determines what resolution to choose.

Plan your strategy
No backup plan can work without a strategy.  Once you define what the disaster encompasses you can design your backup plan. How reliable do you need? What are your pain points? How long can you live without your data/server/computers? What is the cost in lost opportunities? Unproductive employees? The impact on customer service?

Focus on Disaster Recovery
Simply backing up files is good in theory but what if you miss something? Your strategy should be centered around a total system loss. If you lose a few files then recovery should be simple (and fast!) But if you only backup SOME files and you lose a server how do you recover?

Understand Your TCR
Total Cost of Recovery is a business term that aggregates all aspects of being without core data and systems. What is the cost of time of inactivity? How much business would be lost (estimated)? What percentage of data can you afford to lose? What impact will not having this data have on your business? How long can your business survive without the server(s) online? These are just a few of the questions you should answer regarding your plan so you can accurately assess the recovery tools you should implement. Budgeting is an important part of your recovery plan.

Determine Maximum Allowable Downtime
As part of the TCR you should determine how long you can be down. Is it a few days or an hour? Your backup/recovery plan should take this into consideration and budget accordingly.

Remove the “Human Element”
The greatest threat to data backup is the human element! Equipment reliability has increased a great deal in the past few years but there are weak links in any system and, unfortunately, people are the greatest weakness. Illness, hardware issues and plain old forgetfulness all play a part in the weaknesses in backup programs. Seek a solution that provides a completely automated process that includes rapid backups, intra-daily “snapshots” (to reduce loss if a failure occurs during work hours) and has an automatic off-site component that keeps your data in secured vaults in another town or state. Also know any governmental regulations regarding encryption to make the data inaccessible should a third party gain access to it. Know what the recovery options are if you need to get immediate access to the backup data. The process should be quick enough to prevent anything more than a mild inconvenience.

Review and Verify
Finally, make sure your backup plan is reviewed for completeness and can be easily modified as your business needs change. Testing your backup scenario regularly will insure you’re ready if the worst happens.

[View ISD’S Disaster Recovery programs]