Got Backup?

Mark Berry September 29, 2010

Computer after fire, courtesy pyroclastichawk under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Computer backup is an insurance plan for your data. Like any other insurance, it’s hard to think about when everything is going great, but you sure are glad it’s there when you need it.

Also like insurance, there are lots of factors to consider and lots of potential solutions.

So why do you need backup, exactly? And what kind of backup do you need?

The Risks

If your business relies on the data on your computers, your business is at risk if you do not have backups. Consider these questions:

  • If we lost all the data on any given computer (common when a hard drive fails), how much would it cost me to recreate it?
  • If every computer and hard drive in our building was stolen or destroyed by fire, would my business survive?
  • What do I do if an earthquake prevents us from getting to the office for a period of weeks or months?
  • If the primary server crashes, how long can my business afford to be down?
  • If we get a virus, how do we quickly recover to an uninfected state?

The Options

Good backups can go a long way towards reducing your exposure to these risks. Choosing a backup plan is a balancing act between the amount of risk you can afford and the cost of the backup solution. Here are a few options:

  • Computers in a datacenter, courtesy Docklandsboy, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Back up on site to an external hard drive. This is the “bare minimum” protection and does not help if the backup drive is stolen or destroyed.
  • Back up on site, but rotate hard drives off site. Still a very inexpensive option, provides basic disaster recovery coverage, but requires consistent manual maintenance.
  • Back up over the Internet. Depending on the provider, this option provides good disaster recovery, though it still takes time to retrieve the data and re-create the original environment.
  • Keep a spare computer on site. In combination with one of the above plans, this can get you back in business more quickly if the issue is computer failure.
  • Use hosted servers. A fairly new option, some business are getting rid of local data storage altogether. Others keep their local server but contract to have a hosted server on standby. This can provide almost immediate disaster recovery, even if you have no physical access to your office.

Often the best plan for a given business will be a combination of two or three of the above options, taking into account the value and sensitivity of the data and the amount of time the business can afford to be without that data.

MCB Systems can guide you through the myriad options and design a backup plan that fits your needs and budget. Contact MCB Systems for a consultation.


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