A Good Backup Plan Is Essential

One of an organizations most critical assets is their data.  It is like the DNA of the organization, nothing will work very well without it.  With so many ways for an organization to lose its data, you need a well implemented data backup and recovery plan.  If you fail to do this and then lose you data, you may well go out of business and you don’t want that to happen.

The backup plan consists of three phases:

  1. On-Site backups.
  2. Off-Site backups.
  3. Website backups.

However, with some many backup options available, I want to address the overall strategy.

On Site Backups

You need to have an on-site backup. On-site backups can be restored the easiest and you have complete control over them. The purpose of an on-site backup is two-fold.

  1. First it helps you when you accidentally deleted that file you need.  Well if you have an on-site backup, you can just open your backup and restore the file.
  2. The second purpose is for a full restore.  This could happen if a computer crashes, gets a virus, upgrading computers, etc.  You can just restore the entire backup to a new computer and you are set.

So should how the backup process work?  Well, you don’t really want to do this manually because you are likely to miss something (plus that would be a pain).  What you want to do is use some automated backup software.

Any good backup software will help you setup what needs to be backed up. Then it will begin by doing a full backup of everything you told it to backup.  Once that happens the software will detect changes and backup those files. One of the coolest features of this is if you need a copy of a file 3 versions ago, it will likely have it.

Depending upon the size of of your files the initial backup could take days, it really depends on the size of the files you have on your device, and how fast your device is.

One thing you should be aware of is that you should have a backup hard drive that is about 2x the storage space of the device’s hard drive. This is because of the way backups work they have to write a bunch of temporary files but if your backup drive doesn’t have the space it will fail (I speak from experience).

While I’m discussing hard drives, if you have the money, use a Solid State Drive (SSD) vs. a standard hard drive.  A solid state drive is faster and performs better, but they are more expensive.

Off-Site Backups

On-site backups are great for an easy restore but what happens when the backup gets destroyed at the same time as your computers?  If you have a flood, fire, robbery, etc. in your organization, this could happen.  That is why you need an off-site backup and for this, I recommend using the cloud.

Cloud based backup services are great because they don’t rely on you having to do much.  You essentially sign up, configure their software and it runs in the background.  Once it has done the initial full backup, it will backup incremental changes that it detects.

Some services will actually send you a hard drive through the mail to get the initial backup done quicker (vs uploading all your files through the internet, which is much slower).  To upload a large computer’s files to the cloud could take a few weeks, but once that is done it runs the incremental when it detects a change.

Also be aware that some service only do computers while others do computers, phones, tablets, etc.  When you are shopping for a backup service be sure of what type of devices they will actually backup.

Don’t Forget Your Website

One of the key elements for an organization is your website.  Remember, the website is open 24/7/365 never calls in sick, and can make sales for you at 3 AM when you are sleeping.  Make sure that you have a backup of it’s current state and a couple versions back.  Don’t rely on the host’s backup that you can get.  You need a copy as well (just in case).  You should have the content files, code files and database (this is a file called a .sql file). And remember, most websites these days, the lion’s share of the content is in the database.

Why go though this effort?  Because if you have an issue and need to make a change and you already have these, it will go much smoother. For example, if you developer is unexpectedly unavailable and you don’t have the technical knowledge to go retrieve the files from the host, that is a big problem. Part of the deliverable from your developer should be the website files.

I have had the unfortunate situation of helping organizations that have been hacked and didn’t have a recent backup to restore.  Lots of hours were spent re-typing the content from screenshots of the hacked website.

So if you have not yet implemented a backup plan for your organization (or your family) go make an investment in the proper equipment or services today.


Resources

Time Machine – part of the Mac OS.  If you own a Mac you have this already.

Windows backup and restore. Part of the Windows OS.  If you have Windows you have this already.

Carbonite – Coud backup service.

Mozy – Cloud backup service.

Please note, these are not affiliate links.  I don’t make any money if you click these links.  They are just services I am aware of.  I personally have used Mac Time Machine and Carbonite and have been pleased with both.