We live in the information age; nothing is more important than data. This is something that businesses have known since time began, but that doesn’t mean they have plans in place to protect critical information. Most businesses know enough to create backups of their data, but that’s as far as the plan goes. Ideally, all businesses (no matter how big or small) should have a comprehensive data backup and recovery plan. This includes all the proper precautionary measures that need to be taken to protect data, as well as a plan to ensure business continuity while data is being professionally recovered from damaged hardware and software.
How do you go about creating a data backup and recovery plan?
Start by assessing your data.
- How much do you have?
- Where is it stored?
- How is it stored?
- How much of it is used on a regular basis?
- How much is out of date?
- How much is duplicated or redundant?
- What data is actually used?
- How often does it change?
After your assessment, you can prioritise your data and determine your data backup needs.
There are several different types of backups:
- Full backups
- Copy backups
- Differential backups
- Incremental backups
- Daily backups
You should use a combination of backups; for example, full backups once a week with daily incremental backups. Your exact combination will depend on the nature of your business, the amount of data to be saved, the regularity with which it changes, and its importance.
According to Network World’s Matt Lafferty, your backup plan should include:
- Backup software, which can protect file servers and databases, and which should help businesses continue operating even if some systems have to be taken in for professional hard drive recovery or repair.
- Backup systems, which can be tape-based or disk-based. It’s quicker to recover data from disks, but tapes are still cheaper and can be more reliable.
- Data deduplication, which compresses or reduces the space required to save data across multiple devices and environments.
- A data archiving plan, which saves and backs up data according to its priority level and its demand.
- A disaster recovery plan, which includes storing data offsite, outsourcing backups, and using virtual servers or cloud-based backup systems.
Test your plan
It does your business no good at all if you have what you think is a comprehensive backup and recovery plan only to find that it bombs at the first hint of disaster. Justin James says that one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is not testing their plan.
There are several reasons to test your plan. For starters, you need to see if the various software, hardware, and cloud systems work as promised. You also need to see if it works practically for your business. You may find that the lag is too long between disaster and uptime, or you may find that your important data is not as accessible as it should be after a disaster. You then want to retest the plan on a semi-regular basis to ensure that no bugs have crept into the system.
Have you given serious thought to a data backup and recovery plan for your business? If not then perhaps you should clear your schedule for the next few days to ensure that your critical data is safe. After all, data recovery companies can only help you after a disaster has occurred; it’s up to you to proactively protect your data.