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Data backup, recovery and business continuity: The art of saving your business

By Larry Levy    

Each year, the amount of data stored on business computers grows at a rapid pace. In a typicalcomputer business, this involves capturing mission- and nonmission-critical information—including financial, contact management, e-mail and various other forms of data—placing them on servers or devices designed to store this information.

In addition, many companies have transitioned to a paperless environment. This transition utilizes document imaging and scanning systems to transform documents into digital formats and saves them on the same storage devices. In most cases, a high percentage of this information is critical to the survival of the business.

The problem

What happens to all that information when you have an unexpected data loss? Unless you have a strategic backup and recovery plan, that information is gone. Data can be lost or destroyed in many ways, but the most common data disasters are:

• Hardware or system failures,

• Human error (accidental deletions),

• Software failures or viruses, and

• Natural disasters.

Recent studies have concluded half of all companies that lose their data to some type of disaster will not survive beyond six months, and of those who do survive, 90% will be out of business within two years. The question is not if, but when will data loss occur In your business? It is inevitable.

Solutions

Backup and recovery solutions have evolved over the years and various technologies have come and gone. Tape backup has been the workhorse for many years with businesses using a variety of tape technologies. For most businesses, this outdated solution has become time-consuming and cumbersome.

A growing number of businesses have moved to disk backup strategies. The method involves attaching an external hard drive to a computer or server and backing up the data up to this device. This solution works as long as the drive is available in the network, and does not experience failure or damage due to an unforeseen disaster. There is no benefit to backing up data to a device and have that device unavailable when you need it the most!

The next generation

A relatively new and blossoming technology is off-site or “cloud” data protection. Off-site protection is the process of transferring data from the source (generally one or more business servers) to a secure datacenter where the information is protected from natural and person-made disasters, including intentional and unintentional deletion of information. The data is transmitted securely using advanced encryption techniques, which protects the information from those who do not own it.

Until recently, off-site storage technology has been available only to large enterprise organizations. However, with the recent introduction of secure cloud storage technology, the availability for off-site data protection has reached the small business sector in terms of both availability and cost. A number of companies provide off-site data protection, all with varying degrees of simplicity and complexity. In addition, some companies offer an additional level of protection that actually lets you recover the entire computer system. This technology is widely known as disaster recovery (DR). The application takes a snapshot of the entire server or workstation and allows the computer to be restored to a particular point in time.

The next step

When researching on-line backup companies, look for a company that is solely focused on protecting your valuable data and can provide the necessary service and features to meet your specific needs. Do not rely solely on price. The old saying “you get what you pay for” bodes well here. Electronic business information is one of your most valuable assets. Without it, it is only a matter of time before a company is not viable. As you begin your solution search there are some key elements to remember:

• Test your backups. This is critical. It is one thing to back up your data, but you cannot stop there. You must make sure your information can be restored. Too many companies think they have accurate and current backups only to find the tapes do not work or the external storage device is damaged. Companies spend millions of dollars annually and countless person-hours trying to recreate data they thought was backed up.

Make sure you can restore quickly, easily and reliably. The speed at which you can restore your valuable data is very important. The faster the recovery, the less the financial impact to your business.

• Double-check what you are backing up. Make sure your data backup and recovery strategy covers all the information you need it to cover. This includes but is not limited to, e-mail, applications, operating systems, document files, and database records such as customer contact information and all financial transaction data.

• Back up frequently. Daily backup is best, but do it no less than weekly. Thoroughly search your computers and servers. Some data can be stored in obscured places. If you are not sure, contact your IT department or IT provider.

• Know your Internet speed. The bandwidth (speed) of your Internet access affects how fast your data is backed up. An initial backup can take several days to complete, but future backup jobs should only take minutes or a few hours.

• Backup in more than one location. Some, but not all online data protection providers have multiple data centers or servers protecting their clients’ data. You, too, should store your information in more than one place. If this is your disaster recovery strategy, make sure these facilities are protected against all types of disasters and intrusion.

• Make sure data is encrypted. Data encryption is critical to protecting data on local external devices and to a secure cloud storage facility.

Whatever backup and recovery solution you choose, make sure it is capable of protecting all of your valuable data—not just some of it! You or your data backup service provider should test your recovery strategy often. A secure and reliable data protection service or solution is the best assurance your business can have for long-term survivability!

Larry Levy

Larry Levy

Larry Levy is the director of sales and product development for YottaXpress, a small-business data protection service. YottaXpress is offered by Yotta280, Inc.,

www.yotta280.com, a leading provider of complete data protection solutions. He can be contacted at llevy@yotta280.com or 904-674-2110.


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