Whenever I speak with business owners (whether medium-sized local firms or large national corporations) I ask them if they employ any data backup solutions. Their automatic response is always ‘yes’. They are telling the truth. They do backup their system. They often have a perfectly adequate hard drive, hard drive array or even a tape drive storage unit. Fine in most situations of course.
I then ask what they plan on doing when they lose all of their sensitive business and customer data in an office fire, in the middle of the night. Or a severe flood. Or even in an office raid by thieves for information gathering or simply for the value of the equipment. It is about now that they realise their current system only secures them against a local system failure. Let’s face it, system failures are not nearly as common as they used to be – and even in the event of such a failure, recovering data is not too difficult regardless of how robust the local backup solution in place may be.
So the true answer to my question, in most cases, should be ‘no’. A solution should be in place to prevent problems. A real solution should prevent all possible problems.
So off-site backups. What are they, and are they really that important?
Well I think the question of importance can be answered almost immediately. Yes they are, very important in fact. As a business, keeping your customers happy ranks highly in the upper echelon of factors central to ultimate success. Is it likely that customers will be happy hearing that your business, in the event of an office fire or such event, will lose all of your information; and be entirely unable to recover it? I’m guessing not. This will cause inconvenience for both the customer and the business. Not what you want on top of dealing with a major crisis like those mentioned.
Peace of mind is also important in running a smooth business. Knowing your data is safe off-site, regardless of local issues, is essential in your ability to relax as a business owner. Being safe in the knowledge that your back is covered should the unlikely happen is very reassuring.
And what are off-site backups? Well, I’m sure you are able to gather what they are from the name, or by deciphering the meaning through the above passages. In a nutshell, off-site backups are identical to backups – except of course that they are not stored locally. And if you don’t know what backups are, they are simply copies of all system data that allow the system to be recovered back to its last healthy state in the event of an emergency.
Now back in the infancy of IT in the workplace, off-site backups used to require a man in a van driving to your office and picking up your tape drives to be stored in a large warehouse somewhere. Handy, but expensive, and not entirely effective. Pick-up intervals varied, meaning the last backup could be weeks or even months old. Not massively helpful then. But it worked, and when you don’t know any better, you can complain.
Then the internet got fast. Not overnight, no, but it did. This revolutionized the backing up of data. Well, it revolutionized almost everything on Earth, but that’s for another lifetime of writing. Backups could suddenly be completed remotely, with highly compressed packets of data sent over the net to the designated off-site backup site. This could happen at the end of every day, or even every hour if it is felt absolutely necessary. This data can then be recovered remotely should it be required. Simple.
Yes, backing up your critical business data is very important. All businesses should practice this technique, and with so many hosting firms offering cheap, scalable solutions to this problem, there is no excuse. Secure your business data today, before it’s too late.