This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
What would your company do if the facility you work in or the facility that houses your company’s data were destroyed by fire, flood or tornado? In Missouri, all of these are real threats. Sure, it might never happen to you, but if it does, are you ready?
I’m increasingly surprised to see or hear about businesses that don’t have easily accessible and reliable offsite backups of all of their important data and server operating system partitions. A lot of times people back up only some of their data because the costs are too high to back up everything offsite.
There are many different automated offsite backup solutions available today. Some of them merely sync your files to the cloud, while others back up to another data location onsite and then upload the changes to an offsite collocation facility. Every business and industry has different needs. You should take a good look at several options and have an in-depth conversation with your IT staff/partner to find out what’s the best fit for your company. Also keep in mind that as your business grows and changes, your backup needs may change as well.
Automated syncing and OS backup
Automated syncing programs such as Carbonite are nice in small applications. For desktop-level backups, it is hard to beat the cost and ease of Carbonite. You can set which files and directories you would like backed up to their servers, and the process is automated. Keep in mind that if you’re adding and changing large files often, you may have a strain on your Internet connection (this would not be an ideal platform for 20 people in an office). You’ll need to have advanced program purchases if you want to be able to back up databases, and the timeframe to recover a file is limited (with Carbonite you can only go back three months to recover a file version, and this feature is only available on Windows versions of computers).
Other automated file sync programs for businesses have onsite and offsite backup options with onsite archival options built in. These allow you to back up your files on your network in 15-minute or less increments, and then at night the program will upload your overall daily changes to an offsite collocation facility. The data is backed up and encrypted locally on the server, and then it is sent offsite to a secure facility over a secure connection. You can back up live databases with a lot of these types of backup solutions as well. This type of system is the best of both worlds. You have the onsite backup so you can restore lost or corrupted files, and you have the offsite backup in case of a disaster.
Don’t forget about backing up your server OS. If your server operating system partition becomes corrupted, your entire network may be at a standstill until it can be restored. Even if your data files can be restored, you will still have to reload the OS to access them, which takes time (this could be days or weeks depending on your configuration and policies), resulting in expensive downtime cost.
Backing it up onsite
Why is the onsite backup is even necessary? There are several reasons. You can quickly retrieve your file even if your Internet connection is down. Also, onsite storage will allow you to archive several years of backups for easy access. There are a lot of systems out there that will allow you to virtualize a server on the backup device or restore the server to another piece of hardware should your server crash. If you’re an accountant who only sees a client once a year, and they come in to do their taxes, and their file is empty, then you can have their files restored from a previous point in the year. With a cloud-only backup, you will not have this ability.
The offsite with these systems is easy to monitor and ensure that everything is being completed successfully. Your IT staff/vendor will get notifications if a backup is failed or if the offsite transfer has failed. This ensures your data is safe and easily accessible in the event of a disaster.
At the end of the day, you have to choose which backup solution is best for your business needs. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your backup system, and make sure it is what you want if something were to happen. You can rebuild your office building, but you can never recreate numerous years’ worth of emails and files.