Technology / Business technology

Data backups – pay attention or you will pay!

I’m going to tell you the most important information you’ll ever hear about data backups. They come from the heart, they come from cold hard facts and they come from painful experience.

3 April 2011 by

Data backups are essential, but they aren’t sexy or fun. They’re often done poorly, overlooked altogether or fail when you need them most.

I’m not going to tell you what method to use to do your backups because every situation is different. Instead I’m going to share the facts you must take into account:

1. Your data backups need to involve a person who cares about the data

I’m sure you’ve heard about (and maybe even bought) automatic backup solutions that “look after themselves”.

Why would you believe that? Nothing else in computing looks after itself, so why would your backups?

I don’t care what anyone else tells you about automated data backups. I will stand by this assertion until the day I die: you need an actual person regularly checking that your backups are working and testing that the data can be recovered.

"Murphy’s law holds true here: I’ve seen too many backup systems fail when they are needed most – at recovery time."

2. Build a backup mindset into the way you work

In big business it’s usually the case that “someone else” is responsible for backing up the data of the whole company. Unless they’re actually involved in the process, most individual staff members can just assume that it’s being done.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business technology section.

Home and small business computer users simply don’t have the time, resources or expertise to do the sorts of data backups that big businesses do. Your backups need to fit into the way your business works so that they happen routinely as part of what you do, rather than being something extra that’s a bother to think about.

3. You need at least two completely different backup strategies

You need two backup strategies in case one of them proves faulty in a time of crisis.

Of course, a time of crisis means one copy of your data is already gone so the second method of backup is your only hope.

This may sound like overkill or a luxury if you’re only now considering doing your first data backups, but Murphy’s law holds true here: I’ve seen too many backup systems fail when they are needed most – at recovery time.

4. You must have an offsite data backup

Your site IS where the problem has occurred. It doesn’t even have to be a big problem to take out all your data. It could be single glass of water accidentally spilled over the computer and the backup drive. (By the way, how close to each other are yours located now?)

Having your important data somewhere else is critical to business continuity, and is just another way of safeguarding your technology.

There’s no excuse for not having your data offsite these days. Cloud-based backup systems such as Sugarsync do that and much more. For many soloists, the free quotas provided by these tools are sufficient to backup up critical files. Sugarsync now offers 5GB free as a starting point, while others such as A-Drive will give you a whopping 50GB free if you are willing to put up with a few ads.

Stop for a moment and imagine the pain of losing all your data and having to recreate it from scratch.

Now do a backup, get your backup offsite and prove to yourself that you can get your data back. Doesn’t that feel better?

Have you ever experienced a catastrophic loss of data? Please tell us all about it, and what it took to get it back.

David Moore

is the owner of I Hate My PC. He helps people make computers work for them instead of the other way round.

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