Best Practices: Backup Basics

Most of us have lost important data at some point of our lives. Some of us learned very early how important it is to ALWAYS keep ANY IMPORTANT data in more than one place. Some learned this lesson – when the excuse “my homework was eaten by the dog” wast just not good enough… others when they lost years worth of pictures of beloved Fluffy…
Whatever the case might be – feeling we all had when realized the importance of data is far from pleasant.

As a business owner when you think about it, this can be concerning as the data you need to have available not only contains important information, but often it keeps your business running day to day.
Most of you, probably are not willing to loose it.

Many business owners rely on their IT companies to implement a good backup and system recovery plan and ensure that everything is being thought out, is being monitored, and will recover in a disaster. The best solutions however are put in place if the business is involved in the planning process in an educated way.

The goal of this blog is to outline not only the need for a good backup solution, but also what makes up a good solution.
Whether you’re reading this because you have a backup plan in place that you’d like to evaluate yourself, or because you want to have one put together and want some background info first, here are some

Valuable things to consider when planning or evaluating a good solid backup solution:

  1. Is all important data being captured by the backup plan?
    • Servers (company data, databases, emails, centralized user data, etc.)
    • Workstations (emails, favourites, documents, pictures, custom program data, etc.)
    • Emails (if an email is deleted what are you able to recover and how long after deletion)
    • Mobile Device Data (site photos, emails, contact info, notes, etc.)
    • External Drives (data saved on external drives not existing on the network)
    • Network Storage Units
  2. Does your data follow the 3-2-1 rule of backing up?
    • At least 3 copies of your data
    • Backups stored in two different formats
    • One copy stored offsite
  3. How often are backups taken?
  4. How far back do backups go?
  5. Do your backups go back as far as you need them to? (do you have any situations where you’d need to recover old data?)
  6. Does anyone get a notification if there’s a failure?
  7. Does anyone get a notification if the backup succeeds? (sometimes there are frozen backups that send neither a success nor failure email. The lack of notification can point to a problem, so only alerting on failures can be inadequate)
  8. How large is your backup data set?
  9. How fast is your data growing?
  10. How large does your backup media need to be to keep enough backups to meet your objectives?

 
I’ll point out that not all backup solutions offer a notification system. Many free backup solutions don’t in fact! What’s important is that regardless of how backups are being monitored it’s important that the knowledge of how to monitor them is understood and steps are taken to ensure that when failure begins, you will be made aware.
Equipped with these questions you should be able to either attempt creating a useful backup plan, or work with a technical person to evaluate your implementation. If you’re asking these questions and aren’t satisfied with the answers you’re getting, don’t back down! This is your data and you need to be sure you understand what you’re getting!

We want to encourage you, maybe not to take things entirely in your own hands, but be knowledgeable partners of your IT provider in evaluating the backup solutions.

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