Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So my Data is Backed up, Now What?

In honor of World Backup Day, it seemed appropriate to discuss some of the often overlooked, nevertheless important, aspects of backing up data. While creating backup copies of all relevant files is an important piece, it is only part of the data recovery process. The best way to be prepared for a data emergency or data loss goes beyond simply copying files to a secondary location. The Backup Rule of 3 states:

1 Off-site backup - If the house burns down the USB drive sitting next to the computer is not protecting any files.

2 Different formats - Combine different types of storage - local hard drive, USB drive, cloud storage, CD's or DVD's, etc.  Mix any two for best results.

3 Copies of important files - Losing a device means one copy is wiped out. Consider what happens if a backup copy is corrupted? 

The Backup Rule of 3 is good advice for anyone with data they cannot afford to lose. The cost of data loss is of course somewhat subjective and unique to the person or business who lost it. Losing pertinent or critical business files translates into monetary costs, while losing family photos that can never be replaced causes an emotional loss that cannot be translated into a tangible amount.

Once a system is in place for regularly creating data backups, it is imperative to check these files. If you are looking for a backup solution, consider our cloud based online backup service. Here are some reasons why it is not enough to simply back up files and forget them:
  • To ensure all files copied or scheduled to be backed up truly were backed up.
  • To make sure newer versions of files replaced older versions when re-using backup media.
  • To verify the files are intact, meaning they are not compromised or corrupted in any way.
  • To be sure the file permissions remain intact and the files can be opened, modified and saved.
  • To practice what the restore process entails before an emergency. Working through the process sets expectations and makes it easier to replicate if data loss occurs.
  • Lastly, to find out how long it will take to restore files so you know what to expect in a disaster situation.
Creating backup copies of files is an important step in data protection if a disaster or loss occurs, but this is only a part of the process. Following up and randomly checking the status of the backed up files is also an integral part of the backup process if you want to ensure you can successfully recover from a disaster. While it may sound tedious, checking backed up files does not require a lot of time or resources. Best practice includes regularly checking random files. This means picking different files to open/restore each time these files are checked. Once a month or once a quarter is frequent enough in most situations, but this depends upon the importance of the files and how dependent you or your business are upon them. It is important to note that only you can decide what is the right frequency for your situation.

As always, preventative maintenance takes time and follow through, but when it comes to protecting your files the rewards far outweigh the effort. Preventing data loss is a much easier process than recovering from a data disaster!

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