A formal backup procedure is vital for any business. When deciding on a backup plan for your business you need to consider what risks you are willing to take with your data, and in particular, identifying what data is critical compared to what level of loss you are happy to face.
A good rule of thumb is the more often you rotate your backup in whatever format, the safer your data is. For instance, if you use the same media two days in a row, you risk losing the prior day's files.
When deciding on your backup procedures consider these factors:
The possible hazards your business could face. These can range from natural disasters, such as floods or fires, to terrorism, hackers or disgruntled employees.
Make a business decision on what level of recovery is required for your business.
- Do you generate data that needs to be protected daily?
- If your business is destroyed in a disaster, could you start up in a different location if you had your critical business data?
If appropriate, create a contingency plan to remain in operation if your office becomes unusable. Communicate this to your employees and provide regular updates.
A successful storage backup programme involves more than just saving information on data storage media, such as tape or disk, and placing it in storage.
The programme also needs to include regular evaluation and testing of the backup system to ensure it's working properly, and that the data being stored can be retrieved if necessary.
To do this, your business needs to periodically restore some folders and files from backup media to validate that the backup process is performing accurately.
The testing and evaluation process of a backup system should take no more than 30 minutes to perform. If your business requires a low tolerance for risk, you may want to simulate a sample restore job once a week or once a month but at a minimum, testing should be done at least once a quarter.
The storage of data is also an important aspect. Onsite storage of tapes should be far enough away from your system so that if you system is destroyed in an accident, your backup copy will not suffer the same fate.
Fireproof safes are often a good option. Off-site storage of tapes should be a separate physical location (different office building, safe-deposit box, home storage, etc.). Always rotate and catalogue tape cartridges or discs and ensure that your media is replaced on a regular basis to maintain optimum performance.
It is also important to review your business' current insurance coverage, or get insurance if you do not have any. Verify that your insurance protects against data loss, or other business asset loss as it is often an area that businesses overlook.