Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans – Stay Prepared

BackupIs your mission critical data backed up and protected?

Does your brick and mortar business have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place, and do you routinely test its functionality?

I think everyone agrees that mission critical data needs to be backed up, but how is debatable. In the hundreds of businesses that I serviced early on over the years, most in-house IT departments used DAT tapes. Very few actually physically removed those tapes from their premises every day. Even fewer remotely backed up their data. So maybe the better question to ask would be, “To what degree is your mission critical data backed up and protected using today’s technology?”

As an ex-RMA Manager (for a local networking firm), I witnessed quite a few defective DAT drives doing hard time on my shelves. I’ve also seen my share of managers scrambling to recover lost data following “unscheduled events” like virus contamination or hacks. Do you think it can’t happen to you? Keeping your fingers crossed isn’t the wisest strategy to ensure your business continued success.

Backing up mission critical data hosted on dedicated servers in data centers

It should be common sense NOT to backup your site on the same server it’s hosted on, but many consumers do just that. Our recommendation is to ALWAYS maintain offsite (remote) backups.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans Are Important

I always recommend incorporating comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plans, then periodically reviewing their effectiveness. One part of that plan should be remote offsite backups. Very often incorporating a remote backup is as easy as downloading a software client onto your network server or personal computer.

Many have setup wizards that help you navigate through the process of connecting to the backup server, provisioning your backup sets, creating a schedule and so on. Typically, backup sets can be configured to run in a variety of ways – backing up data files at the end of the week or your My Documents folder multiple times per day.

Plus, remote backups traveling across the Internet should be encrypted so that you and only you have the ability to decrypt your data.

Ensure your backups have been restored successfully

Measuring the success of the data transfer is important. Look for programs with email notification of successful backups or backups with warnings (with log files attached).

Once your data is remotely backed up

Ok, you’ve backed up your data, but now have a need for one file, or an entire volume of data from two months ago. Is this possible? Simply answered, yes. There are programs that allow instant access to any version of your data files, from the initial backup to the last incremental backup and EVERY version in between.

Locking down clients

Locking down clients simply refers to implementing procedures to protect critical backup sets from being accidentally changed or deleted, while flexible enough for administers to view and change those settings that control the level of usage each client is offered.

When to back up?

Most organizations schedule backups in the evening, during lulls in their business operations. Some programs allow you to run in silent modes (in the background), allowing you to run backups throughout the day.

What if my backup gets interrupted?

Let’s say you start a backup and you lose power. Will the remote server retain the ongoing transfer, or bite the bullet? Features like event managers allow you to resume interrupted backups.

Does remote backup software offer file filters?

Most do. File filters allow you to include or exclude files from the backup selection, mostly via file extensions.

Just the tip of the iceberg

There are so many things that can and do go wrong in business every day. One thing is for sure, IT hardware will go down sooner or later. Power supplies fail, memory modules flake out, hard drives crash, DAT drives melt down, stuff happens. Some issues can be resolved in minutes or hours, but others may take days or weeks.

Backing up your mission critical data is an integral ingredient to averting disaster, but just the tip of the iceberg in developing and managing a comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity plan that will ensure your business continued success.

Step back and ask yourself, “What if?” What if a disgruntled employee, possibly a sysadmin, corrupted your main servers and then disappeared? What if your building burnt to the ground? What if that DAT drive refuses to release last night’s tape, holding it hostage with a stranglehold on its recording heads? What if? What if?

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Steve

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