Backups – Part 1 of 4 – Why, how and what?
Are you running backups? You know you should be, so why aren’t you? Over the next two weeks I will cover all of the things you need to know about backups. Every business and individual has different backup requirements, and while this article contains great backup tips it doesn’t substitute for a qualified consultant. If you don’t already have one, Expedient Technology would love to provide that consultant for you. We highly recommend you contact us before trying to implement any of the solutions discuss over the next two weeks.
Why backup your data?
- Hardware failure: A hard drive (the device that stores all of your data) is rated for three to five years by experts and manufacturers. To make matters worse, hard drives often go bad even before that time frame. When a hard drive starts to crash, you can quickly lose your data. Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States.
- Disasters: No one wants to think that there will be a fire or flood, but it happens – generally without warning. A fire or flood will not only destroy your home or office, but your computer and data as well. 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
- Cost to recover: Data recovery is not cheap. Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed. Further, the cost of lost data is almost unquantifiable. Would your business survive after a serious loss of data? What if you lost your customer list, financial data, and correspondences?
- Viruses:No computer is safe from viruses. Even with the best antivirus software you still run the risk of infection. After infection your data lies prey to the virus.
- Mistakes: We’ve all had a situation where we accidentally deleted something we weren’t supposed to. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
- Corruption:There are a handful of ways for your data to get corrupt on a computer. 31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control. The only thing between your data and corruption is time.
- Theft and vandal: If someone were to break-in and steal your computer, how would you get your data back? What if they stole your backup device as well?
How to backup your data
- Daily backups
- Two forms: local and off site
- Test your backups
- Snapshot backups
- Differential, not incremental
You should be backing up your data frequently, no less often then daily. Some backup suites will even backup every few minutes. The frequency of backup is determined by a lot of factors, including the amount of data you have, and the frequency of change. A daily backup is sufficient for MOST businesses.
As a general rule of thumb, you always want a minimum of two backups. One locally in case something gets corrupt or your hardware fails and you need a quick recovery, and one off site in case of theft or acts of God.
It’s also important that you test your backups regularly. This includes daily or weekly log file checks (we check this daily for clients). In addition to the log files, you should open or view your backed up files once a week or once a month at a minimum to ensure your backup files are there. In addition to that, it’s imperative that you do a test restore at least every month or more to ensure that your backed up files are working. If a backup gets corrupted, it often ruins the entire backup.
Having snapshot backups means that if you are backing up your files daily, and you have seven day snapshots, then you would be able to restore for any day in the last seven days. The advantage of doing this is when a file becomes corrupt the data on your backup often becomes corrupted as well. Having snapshots allows you to try and restore the file prior to the files corruption.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty technical details, it’s also important to remember, differential, not incremental. A lot of people know what incremental is, but they don’t realize the risk. If you don’t know, an incremental backup is when you only backed up what’s changed since the last time you backed up. The danger is that when you do an incremental backup with most backup software, if you lose any backup (due to corruption or any other data loss) you lose all backups after it. The alternative to this is a differential backup. After you run a Full backup, a differential backup backs up everything that’s change since the last FULL backup, not just the last backup. This way you only need the most recent backup (although remember to have snapshots).
What to backup
Everyone has to decide for themselves what data is critical to their business, but almost every business has the same list of backup requirements:
- Financial data (i.e. QuickBooks)
- E-mails (i.e. Outlook)
- Media (music, pictures, movies)
- Customer lists (i.e. ACT!)
I know this is a lot of information to take in all at once, but it’s an important topic. I can’t stress how important it is to backup your data. If you haven’t already, I highly encourage you to talk to a trained consultant about your needs and a solution that will work for you. If you don’t already have one, Expedient Technology would love to provide that consultant for you.
Michael Curnutt, President
Need help with the above article? Looking for a geek that has turned consultant? Let Expedient Technology be your IT department. Serving the greater Everett area, we are happy to be your partner for all things tech. Contact us.