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4 Qualities of a True Backup

With Louisiana coming in 5th in the nation for major disasters, maintaining a good system backup is a no-brainer for our area. Business owners here are typically well aware that they need to backup, and many have already experienced what a hurricane or flood can do to their data. However, a painfully large number of businesses do not properly backup data in a manner that will result in a reliable, complete, and speedy recovery. As we enter a new hurricane season, we’d like to share some insight on what a “true backup” looks like and why your disaster recovery strategy should include one.

1.  It is a copy of your existing, current data

It may seem obvious to some, but too often we hear that someone moved all their data to a server or external drive for safe keeping, but did not setup any method for continuously backing it up. It doesn’t particular matter where your current data is stored or how reliable it is … if it only exists in one physical location, then you don’t have a backup! Notice the word physical here; copying the data to a different folder on the same drive does not protect it from failing hardware, disaster, or theft. Not only must it be an actual copy, but it needs to be current enough to be effective. Most businesses are not backing up as often as they need to in order to facilitate a quick recovery without the overhead of entering in lost data.

2. Protected from the events that threaten your original data

Another common scenario we find when auditing backup strategies is the business that backs up, but only to another device sitting next to the working data. For example, a server backs up to removable tape media or flash drives, but they are left on-site in a drawer next to the server. While this effectively protects a business from failing hardware, a fire or flood could easily destroy both the original and backup copies. Thieves typically don’t discriminate on the type of technology they are willing to steal either. A good backup should include a copy of data that is stored in a location as far from the original data as possible.

3. Capable of being restored

A very important tenant that is often overlooked, a backup is only as good as the restore you can do from it. Backups should be regularly tested by restoring and using all, or at least a subset, of the data it contains. Anyone that has been in the I.T. industry for a significant amount of time can give you at least one story of a backup job that everyone just assumed was working, but ended up being corrupted or unusable when the day came that it was needed.

4. Does not interfere with your business

While not necessarily a requirement to ensure a good recovery, a backup job that does not interfere with your business can be very important. If a backup job has to run during business hours, there is a good potential for it to slow the performance of your network down. Many backup jobs also require more user intervention (swapping tapes, checking backup status, testing recovery) than some businesses have time to give, resulting in poorly maintained backups.
Not sure if your data is being backed up properly? Let a member of our team evaluate your disaster recovery strategy and help you find ways to improve it!