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The Importance of Data Backups

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All computers and their components are subject to failure. In fact sooner or later every business will be confronted with some type of computer failure. The largest threat to businesses during a failure will be some type of data loss or data corruption. While the causes of data loss and data corruption vary, not all are easily fixed.

When a data loss or data corruption occurs, many times the only option is to restore the data from a previously created backup of the affected data. Many businesses today over look the importance of data backups until they suffer the unexpected loss or corruption of valuable data. Once this occurs it would be too late, unless the business is lucky enough to restore the data by physically recreating all the affected files from scratch. This of course is only possible if they have a hard copy or another source from which to recreate the data. It will also cost the business a valuable amount of man hours in recreating the data as well. That is if they are lucky enough to be able to even recreate the data in the first place.

If your business has made backups of all data stored on the hard drives, restoring that data will go much more quickly and require a lot less effort. It will also require a lot less man hours and tears shed over the loss that has occurred.

Today there are many options available to businesses for storing and backing up their data. Some of the options available are tape drives and tape libraries, CD-R's and CD-RW's to DVD technologies. There is also the option to use NAS (Network Area Storage) and SAN (Storage Area Networks) and even remote backups over the internet. Even Windows XP/Server 2003 offers a restore point in case your system becomes corrupted. Of course just having these tools available to you is not enough. They need to be used properly and on a continuous basis to be effective.

Sooner or later all systems will face some type of failure that will require a restore from backup. The point is to perform those backups so they are there when you need them.

It is recommended that you sit down with your systems administrator to create a backup plan for your business immediately if you have not done so already. Also recommended, is that you review your backup plan yearly as well. When discussing your backup plan there are certain options to consider. Such as how often to perform the backups and what type of backup media is best suited for your business. Depending on your type of business and how much your data changes from day to day you may want to perform backups weekly, daily, or several times per day. For most small to mid-sized businesses I would recommend a full backup once per week with incremental backups at the end of each work day.

You will also want to consider whether or not to keep some of your backups off site in the case your business is affected by some type of natural or man made disaster. In addition you may also want software to monitor your backup process in order to ensure that your backups are not corrupted as well. This is a common experience with some types of backup media as well.

Finally you may also want to perform a system restore on an occasional basis so that you can check the effectiveness of the restoration process that you have set in place and to practice it so it goes as smoothly as possible.

Following these steps may be essential to your business continuity should your systems fail and you suffer a loss or corruption of data. Setting up a backup plan as well as a restoration plan will also go a long way in ensuring your business operations if you run into a system failure. This would help establish a "who is to do what" list if your systems should fail.

Failing to backup your business data, especially mission critical data is nothing short of a recipe for disaster. Nothing is as important to your business as the data that sits on the hard drives of your systems.

Copyright, Keith Erwood, Dynamic Network Technologies, ? 2005 All Rights Reserved

Keith Erwood is the head consultant and owner of Dynamic Network Technologies, a computer consulting and services business in New York City. Visit us at Dynamic Network Technologies

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