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Not all backups are made equal

When prompted almost every business owner will tell you they have a backup but the term ‘backup’ is so broad that it can be increadibly misleading. Everyone has heard horror stories about the faithful IT technician who swaps the tape every day for the evening backup only to find that all the tapes are completely blank when an emergency hits. What many people do not appreciate is that even a fully functioning backup may not provide the level of protection they believe it does.

A computer backup is a copy of some or all of the data on a computer that is created as a measure of last resort should that data need to be recovered in an emergency. An emergency might be a hard drive failure, theft, fire or simply the deletion of an important file but in any case the backup is there to provide a fall back should other protective technologies fail. With modern IT, many businesses will never even need their main backup. Drive failures are covered by RAID arrays (redundant disks), file deletion by shadow copies and theft (hopefully) by server cages but even with all these technologies protecting your data it is still possible for disaster to hit. Take an example we have seen this week with the breakdown of a RAID controller taking with it the data on all the attached drives of a server. Believe us. It can and it does happen.

But as the title says, not all backups are created equal. Backing up files is a relatively easy and cheap process that most businesses will already have covered. However, recovering from a complete server failure in a timely fashion. Now theres the real crux of the matter.

When planning a backup strategy the question every manager needs to ask themselves is. “How long can we be without this server and/or data?” To put this another way, if your mission critical server stopped working today, how long would it be before you started losing serious money. An hour, a day, a week?

A file based backup of your user data will certainly protect that data from loss should your server be destroyed but getting your server back to operational status could take days or weeks depending on the severity of the disaster and the availability of parts and hardware. If you’re one of the many businesses that would be in trouble within hours of a server failure then you need to think now about how you can proactively protect your IT systems from downtime because once it’s happened it’s very often too late.

Posted on by Tim
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