October 20, 2017

3 Steps for Backup & Recovery

Back Up And Restore Keys For Data SecurityLast week included World Backup Day, a reminder that it is never wise to have only one copy of any important electronic data.  But data backup is really only one component toward the real goal of data recovery.  The very worse day to test the ability to restore is on the day you need to restore the data.

A Wall Street Journal article on March 31 included these important 3 steps from Jennifer Walzer, CEO of BUMI (Back Up My Info).

  1. Develop a backup AND recovery plan.  This primarily involves planning, documentation and organization.  What do we need the ability to restore?  Where will it be stored?  Who has responsibility for maintaining it?
  2. Determine your RTO (Recovery Time Objective).  This is different for each business but revolves around the questions of what system access is most critical to ongoing business operations and how long can we survive without it.  This drives the tools and strategy.  In general, the more you say “everything at once” the more expensive it will be.
  3. Test your plan: According to Walzer, “I’ve been in the industry for 20 years now and I can’t get over how many people say, ‘we have a backup plan, we’re okay,’ but they aren’t testing it to make sure what they think they’re doing will help them get up and running faster.”  Things change.  People come and go.  Applications get updated.  If recovery testing is not part of your ongoing technology planning your plan is incomplete.

Because recovery needs vary, Onsite Logic works with a number of different backup tools to fit these different needs.  These range from simple data-only backups to fully redundant fail-over systems including the ability to run the business from the cloud in a catastrophic event.

Let our IT consulting team work with your team to help develop your company’s Backup and Recovery Plan.  The time to plan is when things are working.

Backup and Disaster Recovery: Why Backup?

2168203763_8132fc82d8Today’s computing environment has presented a lot of different storage options.  Local storage of files onto a drive (either in your device or somewhere on your local network) is still the most common.  However, more and more people are using off-site and cloud storage as well.

Regardless of the primary location of your files and data, the standard advice is still to have your own backups of your important data and systems.  Over the next few weeks we’ll look at different backup and disaster recovery options.  Today, we start with a simple question: Why backup?

The answer, while simple, is important to keep in mind.  With a backup of data we are trying to provide a level of protection against four different scenarios:

  1. Accidental (or malicious) deletion
  2. Data corruption
  3. Equipment (drive) failure
  4. Natural disasters (fire, flood, tornado, etc.)

To provide even a minimum level of protection against these scenarios there are certain minimum requirements in any backup:

  1. There must be multiple versions / archived copies of the data.  If the same version is mirrored to multiple places, then there is nothing to fall back to if deletion or corruption occurs.  This would mean that a RAID configuration in a server (e.g. mirrored drives or data striped across multiple drives) is not a backup.  If a file is deleted, it is deleted from the mirror drive as well.  It also means that storing things onto a service such as dropbox is not a backup strategy.  If the file becomes corrupted, there are no previous versions to restore.
  2. Any backup strategy requires an off-site element.  If all of the storage is local, then in a fire or tornado the primary and backup data would both be destroyed.
  3. While backups should also include critical company data, the plan must also address software needed to access the data.  Having a copy of your quickbooks company file is critical, but also is having access to the installation program and, more importantly, the purchased license keys.  The same is true for other programs as well.

The primary question any business owner should ask is not, do we have a backup? But instead, in the event of one of the 4 scenarios listed, what are our needs and required timing to recover and restore critical systems and data.  The backup and disaster recovery plan should be constructed to meet those needs and requirements, not the other way around.