How Good is Your Backup?

Posted February 4, 2015 by admin

Every small business owner knows the importance of backing up data and, by now, should be backing up every day. If you’re not, then now is a good time to start, and read on to make sure you put in the right solution. The next step that all too often goes missing is to make sure the backup actually works.


More often than not, back up is treated as a “set it and forget it” type of system. Set it up once, tell it to run everyday, and assume it is working. You may get reports that it ran daily or you may not, but how do you know it’s any good? If your server fails, can you get your files? What about getting the server back up and running? Does it need rebuilt from scratch? To figure out how good your backup solution is, let’s start with the basics.


To have a good back up solution, the minimum is to have your data stored in three places:


1. Your live storage where you access data every day, either on a server or other central storage location

2. A local backup of all files

3. An off-site backup of those same files for redundancy


The off-site backup is critical in case the local backup fails. If your email is on your own server, then you will want to make sure that is also backed up daily, both on-site and off-site. If you have this, congratulations, you at least have the minimum level of protection, but, if the server fails, how long is it going to take to get everything up and running? The best practice is to have full backups, called images, of servers stored both locally and off-site.


Once the best practices are in place, how do you know the backup is actually running? The key here is to make sure that a report is sent daily to whomever is responsible for maintaining your technology. These reports should be reviewed every morning, and any issues should be corrected immediately. You don’t want to be in a position where the server has failed and your backups haven’t run in days, or worse months.


93% of companies that lost their data for 10 days or more, filed for bankruptcy within one year of a disaster; and 50% filed for bankruptcy immediately.*


The point of a backup solution is to prevent this.


Even if the backup is reviewed everyday, you still can’t be 100% sure it is a good backup. Backups should be tested every month at a minimum. If the backup isn’t being tested, you can never know if it will be there for you when disaster strikes. A process to perform a test restore of critical data should be implemented, documented and executed every month, and the results should be documented as well. A further best practice, if it is feasible, would be to perform a quarterly, or semi-annual full server restore. If you are backing up the server using images, then the backup solution should have the ability to boot up a test restore of the entire server. This should be done during a maintenance window or off business hours to prevent any unintended consequences.


So how did your backup solutions size up? If you faired well, my compliments! If you don’t know the answer, or the answer wasn’t pretty, now is the time to bring in a professional to get you up to speed. Setting up the proper solution depends upon each environment, and it would be impossible to go in to all the scenarios here. Simply put, to make sure the solution works, expertise and experience are needed.


If you want to make sure your backup is reliable and will be there when needed, Contact Us today!


*National Archives & Research Administration