Category Archives: Disaster Recovery

Backups vs. a Disaster Recovery Plan

How long could you afford to be out of business?  That may seem to be a strange question to many of you.  But this is one of the questions that should keep you up at night.  Look at the folks in Oklahoma City this past spring.  Do you remember all the businesses affected when Hurricane Sandy hit?  What would you do if something out of your control happened to your business?

Of course, it is not just you to consider.  How long could your employees go without a paycheck?  How long could your clients go without your services, and how long would they?  How many would you lose to competition?  What you need is a plan.  We call these Disaster Recovery Plans.  The goal of this is to put together a step by step guide that you can follow that will allow you to have all the software and files available for your use as quick as possible after a disaster.

Now you are running backups every night, but that is just a first step.  Running backups is necessary.  It is a great habit to have.  But to where are you backing up your data?  If it is not to an offsite location, you may still be in trouble.  A tornado isn’t going to destroy your servers, but leave your external backup drive behind.   What are you backing up?  Are you sure you are backing up the right files?  You must backup those files that will allow the easiest restoration of your programs to a usable state.

So we need to make sure there is a backup set stored away from your office.  This brings up another important question; how much of your data can you afford to recreate?  This depends somewhat on the business you run.  A medical office, for example, would be hard pressed to recreate all the patient notes a doctors records throughout a day.  A much less data intensive business might only have a handful of transactions to recreate.  This will determine both how often you run backups and where you are storing the data.  Some businesses are almost backing up data in real time.  This is expensive and unnecessary for most businesses.  Once a day is usually all that is necessary.  We also recommend doing a full .iso image of your server and any critical workstation once a week.  This is essentially a snapshot of the system.  We do recommend backing up to the cloud.  Prices for cloud backups have become very affordable.  Your data is safely stored offsite.

Another item most owners fail to address is software.  You buy a program, load it, and the original software goes…  Well, most business don’t know.  You need to gather all of your software together and store it somewhere safe like a fireproof safe, or a bank safety deposit box.  For any programs you obtained by downloading, make sure you record the activation codes and store them with the rest of the software.  Without the original software, you will be put in the position of purchasing new copies should you need to replace the hardware.

The last item you need to plan for is the hardware.  Make sure you have a comprehensive list of computers, monitors, printers, routers, copiers, etc. for your insurance company.  As far as replacing the hardware there are several options, depending on how long you can afford to be down.

Having a new server built from scratch can take a week or longer.  Your IT company needs to gather all the parts and then get access to your .iso image to load the new server.  You will have to pay for this option out of pocket probably well before your insurance settlement arrives.  You can also have a backup server ready in a separate location ready for use.

The other option is to use a virtual server.  This is space set up in the cloud that emulates your server.  While this option may be a bit expensive at the moment (prices are coming down quickly) it also offers the quickest option for you to be back running.  All you have to do is take a laptop to the nearest coffee shop with WiFi access and access the server as if you were at the office.  It is fairly easy to set up synching between the actual and virtual servers so you are always ready to go.

Of course, your situation will be unique.  We strongly recommend bringing in both your IT partner and your accountant as you develop these plans.

Cloud Backup starting at less than $10/month!

Backing up your data is only the first step.

When we ask a potential client ‘Who is responsible for managing your backups?’, far too often a blank stare is all we get in return. Business owners know they need to backup their data and may have invested time and money in a backup product but, many times that’s where it stops.

IT research company, Baroudi Bloor International, found that over 90% of small businesses that had a catastrophic data loss (hard drive failure that resulted in unrecoverable data) are forced to close their doors within two years due to the expense and effort required to try to recreate the data or loss of business due to lost information. Having a backup of your data is a minimum.

The next level of protection is ‘Disaster Recovery’ (DR). Not only do you need to backup your critical files by those files need to get off-site, away from your PC or server. If, heaven forbid, you have a fire in your office and the backup drive is sitting right next to the server, then your backup was in vain.

A simple solution for providing a DR plan for your data is running your backups to an external hard drive that is taken off-site nightly or weekly. It’s recommended that two or three external drives are used in a rotation so that your most recent backups are never in the same location as your data.

Better yet, is an ‘Online Backup Solution’. Software (such as IBackup) is installed on the machine to be backed up. The software copies the data, over the Internet, to a storage device hosted by a backup service. It runs on a given schedule and the data is automatically off-site and safe from any disaster. For the busy business owner, this solution offers the ultimate in DR.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a backup solution but, we’ll hit those later.

Just get your data backed up!!!