Computers are now a part of most businesses, and the population at large has become accustomed to them more than ever before. What most users have in common is that they store valuable data, whether it be photos and videos at home or documents, spreadsheets, and accounts at work. That is fine until the hard disk fails, or the computer is stolen – and then all that valuable information is lost.
Estimates for the number of businesses ceasing trading after a major data loss vary, but are believed by some to be as high as 80%. Whilst the actual number is probably substantially lower than this, what is not in question is the amount of anxiety, delay and additional work caused by data loss. So what should you do?
The obvious answer is to make sure you have a second copy of your data. And make sure it’s not in the same place as the original. For example, if you have all your business data stored on a computer hard disk, don’t put your backup copy on the same disk (people do)! Ideally backups should be automatic, reliable, multi-generation and off-site. Automatic so that someone doesn’t have to remember to make them. Reliable to ensure they work when you need them. Multi-generation means that several versions of each particular file exist, so that if the latest one is corrupted and then backed up, you can go to a previous version. Off-site helps if your office is burgled or catches fire as the backup is safely stored elsewhere.
We are often asked how often a backup should be made. There is no ‘right’ answer to this, it depends how often your data changes. Think of it more as ‘how much data can I afford to have to re-input’ and base your backup strategy on that.
Another obvious question is what medium to back up to. Tape used to be the main method; however other approaches such as external hard disk and internet backup have become much more popular. Internet backup in particular is a good way of answering all the points above, and has the added advantage of being cheap – even free if bought with an internet security package like Bullguard.
Whatever method you use, please make sure you always have a recent backup of your data. It will save you a lot of time (and possibly your business) should the inevitable happen one day. Don’t be one of the many who learn the hard way!