Firstly, let me start out by assuring you that I have no partnership or affiliate…
Backups – It’s Your Data, So Look After It
Your business is one failed backup strategy away from oblivion, not that I wish to be alarmist, but backups are an essential part of your IT strategy, regardless of the size of your business.
Getting them right is ultimately important, and it isn’t as easy as going into Windows Explorer and copying a folder from one place to another.
Sadly, experience tells me that not enough of you are taking this subject of backups seriously enough.
WHY DO WE DO BACKUPS?
It should go without saying, but we do them because we don’t want to lose data. Anything we need to recreate costs money and that assumes we can recreate it.
If we can’t, it will doubtless cost a whole lot more.
WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
There many things that can make you glad that you have a backup. I’ll start with us.
We are, truth be told, utterly unreliable when it comes to looking after our stuff, particularly on a computer.
We do silly things like deleting a file. You might be able to recover it using special tools, but there’s no guarantee. And don’t think that storing everything in The Cloud will necessarily help. Deleting a file may result in the delete being propagated to all devices you use.
And if we don’t delete them, we sometimes lose them. We give them a name that made sense at the time but is now meaningless. Or we store them in a file structure that too seemed reasonable at the time but is now just a convoluted mess.
Sometimes we press save without realising that we’ve trashed the contents and undo doesn’t work so well in the real world. So, once we close the software, we’re stuck with whatever’s just been saved.
But, to err is human. If you really want to make a mess, use a computer.
Some packages automatically save you work as you go: some don’t. Like any automatic feature, when it does what you want, it’s excellent. And when it doesn’t, it’s an affront to civilised society.
Features that are there by design can be managed. The inevitable bugs in software are harder to handle, particularly when they create little errors in values that go undetected. And I’m not just talking about commercial products. Errors in spreadsheet calculations and macros can go unnoticed for months.
Disks crash. They’re far more robust than they ever have been, but they’re still fallible.
Buildings burn down. Floods, earthquakes…hurricanes…and so on. Disasters are waiting around the corner.
Viruses and ransomware
These are a facet of modern life, and the cheapest solution may simply be to throw away a hard drive and start again. But when you put it in the bin, your data goes with it.
Mobile devices and laptops are easily stolen.
WHAT TO BACK UP AND WHEN
The what will be down to your environment, so consult with your managed service provider to ensure that EVERYTHING is catered for. But note, the typical rule is that anything saved to a local hard drive won’t be backed up, so make sure the team saves everything to a server.
The when is a little easier. At its simplest level, you take a complete snapshot of your world once a week. Daily backups can then be incremental, storing just the files that have changed in the last 24 hours.
Throw in a monthly backup, and you have a fairly robust strategy.
STORING YOUR BACKUP
The 3-2-1 backup rule is a simple strategy that applies to businesses large or small. It states that as a MINIMUM, you should have:
- Three copies of everything
- On at least two different media
- 1 of which should be stored offsite
And I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but, you know, just in case, store them somewhere safe. A locked desk drawer does not qualify.
TESTING YOUR BACKUP
Amazingly, loads of businesses ASSUME that their backups worked. They don’t actually check. So, take a moment every day to check your backup log to ensure it did what it was supposed to do.
Secondly, run a test every so often to make sure you can restore something from a backup.
I know, you’ve just checked to make sure they worked, but that doesn’t mean you can actually get data back.
In quantum physics, there is the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment. It says that you don’t know what state the cat is in until you open the sealed room and look.
In IT, there’s Schrödinger’s Backup – ‘The condition of any backup is unknown until a restore is attempted.’
IT’S NEVER A PROBLEM UNTIL…
…someone’s beer gets spilt, or the hard drive crashes or whatever. But when it is a problem, it will be a horribly huge one that gets in the way of normal trading and causes a great amount of angst, financial woes, and in the worst-case scenario, the collapse of the business.
The good news is that your Managed Service Provider should have all of these bases covered. But given that it’s your business, your money, your data and your livelihood at stake, it would be prudent to make sure they’ve got EVERYTHING covered.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH LIKE MINDED SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE