Melted hard drive - data loss, business continuity, backup, disaster recovery

Essential facts every business should know about backup for business continuity

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Backup is an essential part of every company’s business continuity plans, and is a key element in helping companies through disaster recovery.

Horror stories

“80% of companies that suffer data loss fail within a year”. You’ve probably heard that statistic, or a variation on it, so many times you’ve lost count – we know we have. It turns out that no one really knows where it comes from - it’s a bit of an urban myth.

So instead of recycling dodgy statistics, here’s what we think are the essential and definitely true things you ought to know about backing up your data.

Backup is well worth the money

As your business grows, the cost of having to down tools becomes more significant. Realistically, how much work could your staff do without access to their files, and how much would it cost you if they couldn’t work? And how many of your clients would be happy with you losing all the data you have about their business? When you look at the potential risks versus the benefits, the value of backing up your data is unarguable.

Data loss or hardware loss?

There are many ways in which companies lose data, from loss or theft of computers to major incidents affecting their premises. Scenarios we see frequently include:

  • someone deleting or overwriting files accidentally
  • a piece of hardware failing, such as a server
  • a disaster such as a fire or flood destroying both hardware and local backups

These three scenarios require two different solutions, which we recommend running simultaneously.

On-site backup for deletion/overwriting or hardware failure

For retrieving older versions of a file, backing up continuously to storage held on site means that you can very quickly access the data from the point before the deletion happened. Some operating systems such as Windows or Apple’s OSX offer this as a built-in feature, so it needn’t be an expensive solution.

Because you’re backing up multiple time-stamped versions of your data, this takes a lot of storage space. The size of the storage you need depends on how far back you would like to be able to go – if you think data losses would be spotted quickly, then you don’t need such a large storage facility. Keeping it on-site makes it easy to access and is more cost-effective for large amounts of data.

You can also use your local backup to deal with hardware issues such as server failures quickly.

Offsite backup for disaster recovery

Floods, fires and other disasters can wipe out both your servers and your local backups at once – and that’s where off site backup comes in. Off site backup copies your data to a storage facility, where it is replicated across a number of groups of machines at different locations. This means if one of the backup servers, or server groups, or even a whole data centre is destroyed, your data will still exist.

You need a recovery plan

You might be feeling pretty good right now, because you’ve already got your data all backed up. When was the last time you tested it? Don’t let your backup solution’s first test be the day you really need it to work.

And do you know what to do if you need to access it? For example, many companies have on-site backup, but no idea how to retrieve information from it, leading to delays in getting back up and running or accessing deleted files.

Similarly, if your hardware fails, your local backup will save your bacon, but do you have a spare server ready to go, or a plan for how you will get one up and running swiftly? If not, you’re going to lose significant amounts of time replacing your hardware before you can use your backed up data. Read about how we helped our client Target Media recover from a flood to see just how important this is.

Finally, in a disaster situation, who in your company knows how to access the offsite backup? If your office has been destroyed by fire or flood, you may no longer have access to records, passwords or logins stored in that office, so it’s important to think about who should have that information and where.

Want to talk to us about your backup? Email us or call us on 0207 043 7044.