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Backups – the scary facts and figures!

A recent survey of Australian SMEs showed that 44% do not have confidence in their internal data recovery and backup systems.  This news is astounding considering the recent bad weather we have experienced!

This survey, undertaken by one of our suppliers, Acronis, found that Australian businesses are among the least confident in the world when it comes to their ability to recover in the event of a disaster.

Unfortunately, backup and disaster recovery systems are often given very little thought or share of the budget, especially as computer hardware has become more reliable and people adopt the attitude of “it will be right”.

In the following article, we will give you some basic information regarding backups and disaster recovery systems, useful tips and some recommendations.

Traditional Data Backup

The term backup has existed as long as the computer industry itself and the official explanation according to Wikipedia is “the process of backing up refers to making copies of data so that additional copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event”.

A traditional data backup usually means all data is backed-up, but the server and workstation setup and configurations are not.  While the data can be recovered, the business can still be out of action for many days while servers and workstations are rebuilt.  The cost of this process can be many thousands of dollars in terms of I.T. costs and a potentially much larger figure on lost income and staff productivity.

Image Backup

In the early 2000’s, vendors like Acronis and Storagecraft came out with the revolutionary technology that enabled a complete server and/or workstation to be backed up in full while still being used.  “An Image backup is a single file or storage device containing the complete contents and structure representing a data storage medium or device, such as a hard disk”.

While image backups were the ultimate solution, the price of these products was often out of an SME’s budget.

The good news is Microsoft and Apple have now caught up and introduced image-based backups into their latest operating systems.

Disaster Recovery

The term disaster recovery is probably one used far too often when explaining hardware solutions. The term actually means “the process, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure critical to an organisation after a natural or human-induced disaster” rather than the equipment itself.

TechPath has been recommending and installing the more advanced image-based backup solutions since the early 2000’s and we are happy to report that every customer server solution put out since 2008 has been image based.

The key considerations for choosing a backup solution are:

  • What is the cost to the business for every hour of downtime?
  • How much (if any) data can you afford to lose?
  • Who can be trusted with the backup process in terms of swapping media, checking reports and ensuring the backups are transported offsite?
  • Do you have a safe and secure offsite location?

Recommendations to ensure your backups are adequate:

  • Media is swapped regularly (usually daily for SME’s)
  • Backups are stored offsite and securely
  • The backups are password protected
  • Media should be clearly labelled and a record kept
  • Ensure someone is in charge of the process and has been trained to understand and read the backup reports
  • Run test restores on a regular basis
  • New programs and data may be skipped from the backup, so always review in these circumstances
  • Where budget permits:

The 5 most common reasons for backups failing or being unusable in the event of disasters are:

  • A staff member leaves and no one continues the backup role
  • Backup media is not swapped and then overwritten the next night
  • Changes are made to the server or applications and the backup is not adjusted to factor in this change
  • Media is not taken offsite and the server is stolen, lost or damaged in a disaster
  • No one is checking the reports or performing test restores

The area of I.T. backups is certainly a very important and interesting topic which we will cover again in the future and as technology changes.