How to create a strong business data backup and disaster recovery plan

First published in Business Blogs Droitwich Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

In the last blog post we looked at the vital importance of why your business needs to create a strong data backup plan. To recap: 1. IT hardware, including data backup media, is liable to failure which could potentially make business data irretrievable; disasters, from full building fires to localised flooding, such as burst water pipes, can destroy IT hardware and access to the data it contains.

2. Data loss could give rise to serious and wide ranging consequences for your business, from cash flow problems resulting from a loss of invoicing information, to an impact on sales ability with a loss of customer/prospect records, to a delay in the completion of projects.

So, safe keeping of your data is an unequivocal business essential, but what are the fundamental points you need to consider when creating a data backup and disaster recovery plan?

• Make a disaster recovery plan: the most essential guideline is to actually make a plan. Your plan should include details on two principal areas: 1) how your business can best backup and protect its data; 2) how long it will take to gain access to your data in the event of hardware failure or disaster. If your business has a firm plan of how it will retrieve copies of its data in the event of hardware failure, or how quickly it can return to service should a disaster strike, your recovery will be faster, more efficient and allow your business to return to standard operation in the most effective way possible. Conversely, as the saying goes, failing plan is planning to fail.

• Make a data backup every day: a daily backup will minimise data loss in the event of a disaster or hardware failure. Thereby, if the worst does happen, you stand to lose 24 hours’ worth of data instead of a week’s worth or more. Some technologies allow more recent or even ‘real time’ backup, and the more precious the data to your business – and the time/resources taken to accumulate it – the less data you can necessarily afford to lose.

• Archive data backups to ensure maximum data safety: creating a weekly and monthly archive of your data provides a more robust system and gives the advantage of historic copies, should you need to refer to them for any reason. Mark Slater, OGL Computer’s senior R&D team member, believes that you can never have too many copies of your data: essentially, the more copies you have, the greater the level of protection your business has if it loses the original copy/copies for any reason.

• Ensure success of your backup: it’s essential that you check that your backup has been successfully created, especially if you’re using a tape drive. Don’t assume that just because the process appears to have physically completed, the actual backup has been made: checking the success of the backup is imperative. OGL’s engineers have visited new customers time and time again to find that, despite a backup having been manually completed for six months or more, the actual backup is either only partially complete or completely blank. Failing to check success of the backup leaves data security to chance.

• Keep your backup offsite: your data backup must be removed offsite and held in a safe location, and if you’re using storage media such as tapes or a hard disk, ideally this means protecting it in a fire safe. Storing your data backup at your premises negates the benefit of creating a backup, should a disaster strike. Unhappily, OGL has even known of a case involving a company which lost its backup tapes during a theft, as the tapes were stored with their server which was stolen.

• Consider the time of data recovery: depending on the seriousness of the situation, or the speed with which your business needs to access its data, time is of the essence in disaster recovery. Therefore, it’s important that you factor in to your plan how soon you need to able to access your data in the event of a worst case scenario. Depending on the technology used, a system reinstall could take from two or more days when using backup tapes, providing you have available premises, hardware and of course a copy of your data. If however your business demands a faster return to service, consider upgrading the backup technology your business is using.

In the upcoming blog and third part of our look at data backup and disaster recovery in IT, we’ll investigate various technologies you could use and their pros and cons. Meanwhile, if you have any queries on how to best implement your data backup, contact OGL Computer for advice on 01299 873 873. Alex Byles is Marketing Manager at OGL Computer www.ogl.co.uk

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