The importance of a sound data storage and recovery plan
Jon Bowling – President Thin-nology
I talked to my lawyer in Houston the other day and asked him, “Bussell, do you backup all the data you generate?” “Sure”, came his response, “every Friday of every week”. I was somewhat surprised and quite impressed that my good friend Bussell, who fits very nicely into the five percent of the nation who are technologically challenged, was actually backing up. I have had calls from him because he lost the page he was working on; only to find out he had minimized it down to his system tray. As we talked more, I found that my good friend was actually backing up his data to the very drive (his only drive), where he created the data.
He is not alone; programs such as QuickBooks very often create the backup database on the same drive as the working database. This backup is working on the theory any backup is better than no backup. For a lot of businesses this is the only way they know and unfortunately, it is a disaster waiting to happen.
Many small companies will be out of business due to the loss of their data. National statistics shows ninety-seven percent never recover from a catastrophic loss of data. For larger companies, the cost can be staggering. Imagine a business that generates a million dollars a month being shut down for two, three, four, and sometimes fives days, while an IT company try’s to reconstruct their data. They are not only losing revenue, but they still have all the associated costs of running their company and now they are paying a couple of hundred dollars an hour for an IT Company to rebuild there data base. In the end, these businesses are left with a subset of the original data they had, before the catastrophic event happened.
While most companies that generate a million dollars a day are run by intelligent people, they are under the false impression that their backup system is always reliable. When data is lost and it has to be restored, it is usually because they have not utilized a backup method that was well managed. In other words, they have operated on a false sense of security and good decisions that resulted in tragedy. This is a typical scenario of a tape backup method, where employees are responsible for putting a tape into a machine and initiating the backup each night before they go home. There are two fatal flaws with this process, the tape remains on site, and the system relies on human intervention to put the tape into the drive each night. The other sad statistic is that one out of every five tape backups does not function properly. The system indicates the data has been stored onto the tape but in fact the tape is partially or even completely blank.
Today, companies are offering an alternative and reliable solution to the tape drive dilemma by backing up to an external hard drive. This is better solution than the tape drive method, because it is usually automatic and takes no manual intervention. Unfortunately, it also has two flaws; the hard drive is at the same location as the data being generated and the backups are never checked by a technically knowledgeable person. I visited a dentist office the other day and they had such a system installed. “How is it working I asked?” Perfectly came the reply. On taking a closer look, I found the backup only completed once and that was two (2) years ago when it was installed. The company that installed it never set it up to run every night and no one bothered to check, because… “It is automatic and you don’t need to do anything,” they had been told.
So what is the answer? The answer is a remote backup system, whereby your data is compressed, verified, encrypted, and moved across the internet each night to off-site location. Most companies that provide this service, have a method of making sure your data arrives securely and that you can easily retrieve the data. However, YOU have to stay involved and make sure you get a transaction log each and every month on the number of files and the amount of data being backed up. You should perform test restores once a month and stay involved.
Even this method has its flaws. Let’s assume you are a bug company in New Orleans and you had a remote backup service. You can’t do business because of Hurricane Katrina, but you will as soon as you are able. Your business will probably get a new computer and download all your backed up data. But Wait, did you engage in a backup company that has two data centers far enough apart to account for a hurricane coming through? Probably not, although you did the right thing and invested in off-site backup service. The very site that has your backed up data is just like you… Out of business.
Your answer is to subscribe to an off-site backup company that is either located in another town that is at least hundred miles from where you are located. Or, a company that has at least two data centers that is separated by more than a hundred miles, and will keep a third copy of your data at a secured storage facility. These are simple, yet very important methods that should be used in protecting your company’s valuable data.
Do not engage a backup company that encrypts your data only as it is moved and then stores it in an un-encrypted state. The backup company and your competition may have access to your data when this method is used.
Thin-nology is a privately held cloud computing services company and full service colocation facility headquartered in Austin, Texas. Thin-nology is uniquely a hardened Tier 3 data center, IT services provider and software applications support specialist. Being a data center, Thin-nology provides Colocation, Managed Services and Cloud.