The Importance of Backing Up Your Data

It’s a normal day and then BAM out of the blue… disaster strikes!  A flood, an earthquake, a fire… and guess what… your whole company is now in jeopardy.  Ongoing maintenance is the key to success – especially after an emergency.  One of the keys to getting back on your feet after an emergency or unexpected incident is staying on top of your maintenance routine.  You must make sure that your data is regularly backed up so that you can get your company up and running again as fast as possible so you don’t lose money and your company can persevere.  Follow these simple steps that can help your company survive if but most likely when disaster strikes.

1. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

  • No matter how simple it is… you must have a written plan of action in the event of a disaster.  If it’s all in your head how is everyone else supposed to know how to react or help?
  • Write down your disaster recovery plan and make sure that others in your company know the plan too.
  • When building your plan you must define your retention policy.  How long do you need to keep your information / data?  Some companies only need to keep their information for 1 day, some for months, and others for a year or longer.
  • Another key element that you need to be aware of when creating a Disaster Recovery Plan is defining how long your system or systems can be down before it will affect your business.  Each system you work with can have different down times.  One system could be down for a few days while other systems can only be down for a few hours before it can start to have a major impact on your business.
  • Based on these requirements, your backup solution is built to fit those needs.
2. Back-Up Your Data
  • Only data that has been backed up can be recovered.  If the data doesn’t get backed up there will be nothing to recover.  So this part requires a bit of teamwork with yourself and your IT team.  You do your part of the maintenance so we can do ours.
  • There are a few ways you can back-up your data.
    • Image Backup (best) – Essentially clones the operating system and all of its data, including the current configurations of the system state and applications as well as the free space and slack space.  The backup is saved as a single file that is called an image.
      • If you’re looking to restore your system back to how it was quickly, this is the way to go.
      • Another great cloud backp, especially for corporations, is Veeam.  Veeam will capture your data and the system state which means that i fyou need to do a full restore this will restore it to exactly how i was before the disaster.
    • File Backup – File backups make copies of files flagged as important on your computer.  You select which files you want to back up as opposed to just cloning your whole system.
      • With file backups you can work with smaller sets of files
      • Recovery time is longer with File backups and you MUST have your software discs available to re-install into your system before your files can be recovered.  So make sure that your software discs are in a safe, secure place.
  • If possible, try to back up your data every night.  It should become a part of your regular routine.  This is the only way to get the most effective and up-to-date backup and get your company on its feet again after a disaster more quickly.
  • Rotate your tapes (or whatever source of removable media you decide to use.  Can be a USB Drive, External Hard drive, CD) and have multiple copies.
    • So you’ve backed up your data, great!  But now you need to find a safe and secure place away from the original area, preferably in a different building, different neighborhood, or even different town.
      • Select a person you trust to take the backups home with them.  If you put your backups next to the system you backed up and something disastrous happens, both will probably be damaged or destroyed and then unfortunately all of your data will be lost.
  • Verify your backups by doing a test restore regularly.  If you are one of our DataWatch clients we do this for you monthly.
  • Backup to the cloud
    • Even if you backup to an external hard drive, it is still a good idea to back up to the cloud.  This way you don’t really have to worry about taking your backups offsite, since they already will be.
    • The best way to do a backup is to do a series of incremental backups and then follow up about every fifth time with a full backup.  This way if you need to go back in history to find an old file, you’ll most likely recover an updated file rather than an out-of-date one
    • If you could afford to do a full backup… that is the most ideal situation
    • And remember, if you’re doing a file level backup; please keep in mind that you’ll still need to have a copy of all of the software that was installed so the sync can go smoothly.

3. Make sure you have copies of your latest Computer Software and Licenses stored in a safe location

  • Some people prefer to store these offsite as well, which is probably the best idea
  • Keep a log of what was up updated and when – this will ensure that at the time of a restore everything will work properly.

4. Update

  • It’s important to update your equipment on a somewhat regular basis.  Now, we’re not saying that every time a new computer comes out or new software comes out to get rid of what you’re currently using, but if your software or equipment is just days away from going into the Museum of Technology, it’s time to upgrade.  If you have old equipment it’s very possible that there will no longer be support or replacement parts.  Then compatible software will need to be found to attempt to create a successful restore.

We realize that all of this information seems a bit daunting and possibly even overwhelming, but trust us, it is absolutely necessary if you want to get your company back in working order so you can continue making money.  Unfortunately we don’t have a magic genie in a bottle and we can’t perform miracles, so in order for us to be effective and efficient in our job, we need your cooperation and help.  It takes teamwork to make most success stories happen.  If you have any questions or need some assistance with backing up your systems and your data… please don’t hesitate to call us at 707.575.9986.  We look forward to helping you ensure the safety and productivity of your business!

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