Businesses are adopting technology at an astounding rate. Through cloud computing, it is now even easier to create, share and distribute information. Companies of all sizes are switching from a paper-based process to a purely digital platform. Digital signatures have allowed for documents to be approved without ever being printed, and paper bills are being replaced by PDFs. However, while your filing cabinet may look like it has been on a diet, your computer’s hard drive is probably feeling the digital bulge. Without a well thought out strategy to mitigate the risk of data loss, recovering from a disaster could mean the end of your business. According to hard drive manufacturer IOMEGA, “After 5 years, only 7% of businesses that suffered serious data loss are still in business.”
All Backups Systems are not Created Equal
In the past, a backup was simply a duplicate copy of your files stored on your computer or on an external tape drive. Disaster recovery has come a long way and now allows for a variety of methods to prevent data loss. Backups are typically stored on your computer, on an external device, on the cloud via the internet, or as a hybrid combination of all of these. Let’s examine each of these methods in more detail.
In Your Computer
As mentioned above, the common backup is one where your critical data is copied and stored on another location on the same computer. This method is not only the most unreliable type of backup, but also the cause of many wasted weeks (or months) of effort in recreating the lost data. According to a study done by Google, 13% of hard drives will fail in the first year. When your hard drive fails, your original data and the data you thought was protected will disappear. Recovery, if at all possible, can cost thousands of dollars with no guarantee of success.
External Hard Drive
Moving one level up from storing your backups on your computer is the external hard drive method. Storing your files off your computer, but on premises, allows for very quick recovery in the event of data loss. As a result, this is one of the more popular backup strategies. While this is more reliable than storing the files locally, it too has its downsides. Although the files are safer when stored off the main computer, most people will leave the hard drive sitting next to the computer, or stored in a filing cabinet nearby. In the event of a fire, flood, or theft, both your original files and backed up files could be damaged, lost, or stolen. One way to protect against this is to rotate between multiple portable external hard drives. However, by doing this, you are relying on human intervention to ensure that the backups are complete, and that they are regularly swapped. As Murphy’s law states, “if anything can go wrong, it will.”
In the past few years, cloud backups have become increasingly more popular. Storing your files on the cloud allows you to rest assured that all your important files will be offsite if, and when, a disaster occurs. Typically backups will occur when you are not using your computer, such as at night, and only backup files that have changed. As a result, they can be very fast and do not require any human intervention.
A hybrid backup is a combination of backing up to the cloud and to a locally stored external hard drive. This makes it the best (and least expensive) way to backup your computer. With these two strategies, you can be sure that your data is safely stored offsite, and also available immediately when needed. As a full backup can take days, or even weeks, to retrieve from the cloud, having a hybrid solution enables you to get up and running in minutes or hours.
Backup Best Practices
In the information presented above, I only discussed the medium to which your data is stored. In addition to the storage location there are a few best practices that one should follow when deciding on a backup strategy. As you probably already know, online backup is one of my core services here at EDMI. Along with providing great software, I strive to educate my clients on the importance of following these 3 simple rules for backups:
- Backups must be secure. Security is the first question people ask about when talking about online backup. Our system encrypts your data before it leaves your office. Furthermore, only you have the password to decrypt these files.
- Backups must be reliable. A good backup is one that is reliable. Your data should be accessible when, and where, you need it. Choosing a local backup service provider ensures that you have access to all your data immediately when disaster strikes.
- Backups must be automatic. This is the most important of all the rules above. Without an automatic backup, there’s no assurance to knowing if you can trust your backed up data. Our backup system performs a backup every single day. Make sure yours does too.
This was one of my longest posts to date, but also the one I’m most passionate about. It may be easy to recreate your weekly meal plan, or your family budget, but loosing family photos and old memories is tragic. Fortunately, this can easily be avoided with a great backup strategy in place. If you have any questions, or would like a consultation for your business, please feel free to contact me.