What would happen if all your computers failed, were stolen, or were destroyed in a disaster?
These days, computers play a crucial part in all businesses, yet many don’t have any plans for what they would do if their IT system was wiped out in a disaster. Disasters are far from uncommon: a crucial computer system may just fail, your computers may be stolen in a burglary, or your premises flooded, or burned down.
No matter how unlikely a disaster may seem, you should always be prepared for the worst by making backups regularly and storing them away from your premises.
Backups should be taken every day, so ensure you have the appropriate hardware and software. For just about every business, this means a tape drive and at least a dozen tapes. There are cheaper options, but none of them have the capacity of tape and in practice, they are systems which break down quickly. A tape should be able to back up your entire server and you need change it only once a day. Ensure your IT support company advises you about which hardware is right for you.
Put a backup schedule in place
In keeping with best practise, your business should retain files for at least the last 6 months. You can do this without needing to buy a tape for each day – which is what you need when someone tries to open a document written 3 or 4 months ago only to find the file is corrupted.
The following is a standard, industry-recognised backup schedule, which should enable you to trace any file from the past 6 months, without having a tape for every working day:
- 4 tapes for days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. Every Monday you record over last Monday’s data, etc.
- 4 tapes for Fridays: second Friday of the month, the third Friday, etc.
- 6 tapes for the first Friday of each month: these get overwritten every six months.
When you’ve completed your backups, you must remove your tapes from your building – preferably to a secure storage facility – and ensure someone can access them at any time, even holidays.
Finally, ensure your IT support company checks the tape drive regularly, as tape heads are subject to wear and tear, so tapes made on a particular drive will restore from that one only and not from any other.
However, we at EC-MSP prefer daily online backups, using software installed on your servers. This software automatically backs up your information to a secure off-site data centre, which ensures your information is available to you 24/7 from any web-based terminal.
Backups and then some…
The above mentioned precautions are essential to surviving any disaster, but you should also make it less likely you’ll suffer a disaster by managing your IT properly.
Ensure you keep a full inventory of all the hardware and software your business has in your off-site storage facility, as it will be essential for an insurance claim and for replacing its equipment. Remember, the more standardised your hardware and software, the easier it will be to replace.
Make sure your virus protection software is always up-to-date. If you have a server, ensure you install an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which is essentially a large battery that will keep your system running during small interruptions and shut it down properly, if required.
Be safe, not sorry – always operate on the principle; “if something can go wrong, it will”!