Without question, one of the most important things you need to do to protect your business, and your sanity, is back up your data. Everyone knows this, yet so few do it and even fewer do it properly. Data loss can happen for a number of reasons, and eventually it will happen to you. Implement a solid disaster recovery plan now, and give yourself some peace of mind.
Let me count the ways
There are many ways you can lose important data. You can lose it from a hardware failure, a software bug, user errors, viruses, power failures, lightning strikes, fires and other natural disasters, and theft and other malicious events. If your backup solution isn’t configured properly, you can even lose data when restoring a backup. The list goes on and on.
Cover all your bases
With so many ways to lose data, you need to make sure you’re covering all your bases. Here are some things to consider.
- Make sure you back up everything you need. Backing up your Documents folder is not enough. You must back up important data living in other system areas and hidden folders, and some databases require special procedures to be backed up right. If your backup isn’t configured properly, and you’re missing these files, the value of your backups is greatly diminished and in some cases even useless.
- If you’re only backing up once a week, and your server dies six days after your last backup, you’ve got a lot of work to do to generate all that data again, in addition to all the work you normally have to do. You should be backing up all of this data every single day and more often than that if your business is fast moving and time critical. Don’t be concerned that it’s going to be time-consuming or that it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg, because it’s not.
- If your building burns down and all of your backups are in the ashes, what good are they? One of the key components of a proper disaster recovery plan is that you get your backups outside of the building. In the event of a fire or theft, you’re out of luck if your backups were inside the building, but if a copy is stored in a remote location, you’re covered.
- Make additional backups during important business events like monthly, quarterly, and year-end accounting tasks. For example, before closing your books at the end of the year, you should make a snapshot of your data in case something goes wrong. This makes it easy to restore the accounting system to the moment right before you did the closing.
- Smartphones and tablets – Do you have a plan for these devices? This is important if you create and store company data on these devices that doesn’t get transferred into the company’s servers. There are several ways to handle this on each smartphone platform, and the best solution will depend on how you use these devices.
Proper disaster recovery planning requires that you take all of these things into consideration and put a system in place that addresses each one. If you’re not doing all of these things, and in some cases more, you are putting your business and livelihood at risk.
It’s not that hard
A properly-designed backup system will automatically back up all your company information with very little effort. In fact, it should be nearly effortless. It will even notify you if there are problems with your backup, so you can focus on your business instead of worrying about doing your backups.
The one thing you do need to do is test your backups. A backup is only good if the data can be restored properly. Test your backups on a regular basis to make sure everything is working as it should. Do this by restoring some test data to a temporary location to make sure your backup sets are valid.
Insurance for your business information
At some point every business experiences a data loss event, whether a single file is accidentally deleted or a server crashes due to hardware failure. A solid disaster recovery plan is an insurance policy for your business, and without one, you’re a sitting duck.
What would it cost you to reproduce all of your company’s data in the event of a catastrophic loss? How would it affect your business? Would your business even survive?
Like most types of insurance, the cost of having a “data insurance policy” is nothing compared to the cost of a catastrophic loss. A solid disaster recovery plan can cost you only a few dollars per month. With the low cost and minimal effort required to maintain a proper disaster recovery plan, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have one.
Protect your business and your sanity; implement a solid backup plan today.