A large percentage of business owners state that backups are critically important; yet less than half of all small businesses actually perform regular backups that are stored off-site. A number of businesses fail each year as a result of a disaster. This is avoidable!

Why verify – If you are going to go to the effort to have backups don’t you want to know for sure that you will be able to restore the data successfully when you need to do so? This does not take long, but it is an important step to verify the backup process is working correctly.

Why frequently – Backing up twice a year means that you could lose up to 6 months of data if the failure were to occur shortly before your next backup. The more frequently you’re backing up, the less data you should lose in the event of a problem. New backup tools make this process very doable. How many hours, days, weeks or months of data are you prepared to recreate or do without? We know a photographer that lost pictures due to a virus. It was only because of a backup that these photos were not permanently lost.

Why store off-site – If you store your backup data within range of the disaster, your backup will likely be damaged and you may not be able to recover your lost data. Get you backups off-site to reduce this risk. For increased redundancy we suggest that both an on-site and off-site backups be performed. This provides for easier recovery if the on-site backup is available and provides two sets of backups for increased redundancy.

Some people ask what they should back up. The simple answer is everything that you would like to be able to recover. We have never met anyone who after a disaster felt that they backed up too much of their data, operating system, or applications. Effective business-class backup software can be very powerful and can allow a business to recover the entire computer, or files and folders, as necessary. Some software allows the recovery of a computer to a different make/model computer, or even to a virtual machine. These options make recovery much easier and much more effective. Backup software may be designed to back up to a computer that in a pinch can take the place of the primary computer or server. We encourage you to work with a company, like ours, to think through the options and to select the backup design that best fits your needs.

RAID – Some servers and computers use a disk drive system called RAID. This involves using two or more disk drives to store your data for improved fault tolerance and/or increased computer performance. In some RAID installations all data is stored on two hard drives instead of just one. Some types of RAID can add security. While this may help following the failure of a single hard drive it likely will not help if the disaster involves a virus, file deletion, fire, flood, computer theft, voltage surge, etc. RAID can be very useful but its benefits are limited. Making backups remains a critical task.

There are two general types of backup storage: The first stores the backup data to your own media such as an external hard drive, backup tape, DVD or USB thumb drive. The other type of backup saves your backups via the internet on media owned by another company.

Computer Owner Media Storage – This type of backup is under the complete control of the computer owner. The media used, storage location, and transportation is up to the owner. The data does not need to go through the hands of a third party. It is imperative that backups are performed regularly and moved off site to be most effective.

External Company Based Storage – An internet based backup storage system can make getting the backup files off-site easier, involves sending your data, albeit normally encrypted, to another company, and may or may not be more costly.

Full, Incremental & Differential Backups – Simplistically, a backup is a copy of your files. It is possible to copy the copy-of-your-data back to a computer hard drive if the original files are destroyed, damaged or deleted. In its simplest form each backup is a complete copy of all files to be backed up. This is typically referred to as a full backup. While a full backup is very effective, it becomes a problem though if you wish to backup your computer on a regular basis. Each time you back up you must again re-copy all files to be backed up. This takes time and space on your backup media. If you have 500 GB of total data but on a given day only about 0.5 GB of data is created or modified, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to only backup the 0.5 GB of data instead of the entire 500 GB? An incremental backup will do just that. The incremental backup only backs up those files which have been added or modified since the last full or incremental backup was performed. Another alternative to the incremental backup is the differential backup in which all files added or modified since the last full backup are backed up. As you can imagine the differential backup file becomes larger as more time transpires since the last full backup was performed.

Data De-duplication – Another technique which can be quite beneficial is called data de-duplication. This technique helps prevent you from backing up the same data more than one time. This reduced the size of the backup reduced the storage area needed and it can speed up the backup process as less total data is backed up.