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Small business backup strategies

Small business backup strategies

Many small businesses are confused by backups. We are often asked questions like who should manage the backup process, should you use tapes or disks, and is remote backup any good?
With that in mind, Craig has decided to tackle these questions in this week’s blog!

First off, every small business should be doing a regular backup of their systems. Excuses such as “I don’t have anything that important to back up” or “I try and do it when I remember” really don’t cut it. Just think, it’s not just the importance of the data but the time it takes to get your crucial systems back running again after a failure. Of course, the machines may be generic ‘office’ computers without any custom software, but they will still take longer to re-build if a backup isn’t available.

Next words of advice: All business owners, or a nominated staff member, should know what their backup strategy is and know it’s working.

If you don’t know the status of your current backup strategy, or if they are working correctly, then stop reading now and book yourself a backup audit with one of our team. Seriously – it’s probably the most important thing you’ll do today.

Now that we’re clear on the importance of actually doing a backup, and knowing something about it, let’s look at some of the common questions about backups.

Tapes or Hard Disks – which are best?

Neither – they are both good backup options!
Many clients ask us if they should upgrade their tape drive backups to a hard disk based set-up, and my answer would be that it’s more important that you’re actually rotating the tapes and doing the backup rather than worrying about changing a system that works. In the most recent Windows server operating systems, Microsoft have moved away from supporting tape backup as a native option – and this means that hard disk backup makes sense if you’re setting up a new server.
Other advantages of hard disk drives is that they tend to store more data than a tape system, and they are normally fairly rugged.

Whats my ideal backup strategy?

This is totally dependent on your data size, how far back in time you need to be able to restore, how many hours/days of data loss you can handle in a disaster, and how long you can handle the restore taking.

Most people overestimate the time they think they can be without their machine for. It’s tempting to do so, as the more ‘realtime’ the backup becomes (bearing in mind that you can have a complete failover system if your server is that important, making the service restore time near zero) the more expensive it becomes.

This type of thinking is poor logic, as when your system does go down you’ll be stressed and wanting it back online as soon as possible. This in turn puts stress and pressure on your service provider and could lead to corners being cut, or mistakes being made.

The correct way to look at this scenario is to look at your revenue loss per hour, for the system(s) that you are running. Remember that your main server may run multiple applications – email, web, database, accounts – so you need to factor all of these items being offline. Try and work out the cost to your business, which should include lost income and also the outgoings you’ll still be paying (staff wages for people who can’t work).

Need some help with planning? We can assist you with a backup audit, which enables us to ask the right questions and make recommendations for you.

Is remote backup any good?

Remote backup is a great way to ensure that important files are fully ‘off site’ which protects you against major disasters ruining your business.

Restore (and initial backup) speeds are limited by your internet connectivity, so a pure remote backup strategy isn’t normally ideal.

For most clients we couple remote backup with a solid on-site backup strategy, meaning that they are well protected against minor failures and major disasters.

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