Business data archival is more than just good advice; it may determine whether or not your business survives.  A business can’t run without information and losing that data could result in extended downtime.   Because of this a secure and reliable backup solution should be a priority in any business.

The first step to prepare for your backup solution is to identify business critical data.  Email records, reports, financial data, transaction logs and text documents are all of great importance but program executables should also receive attention.  If applications and configurations are not part of your backup plan than your business will risk extended downtime while they are manually reinstalled.  Your company will risk disruption from the tedious task of reapplying individual patches on each system; which can take days or even weeks.

While many programs have built in archiving capabilities this is only the first step.  Once information is backed up it also needs to be moved to a secure location.  Depending on how your business network is set up will depend on how this is done but it is best if the process can be automated.

The use of CD-Rom disks to backup data is the still very common but it is also the least reliable.  Numerous problems can arise from CD media backup such as incompatibility from computer to computer or corrupted data.  To make maters worst CD’s have a limited shelf life and will degrade over time.  As such it is not advisable to depend on CD’s for any length of time.

Online backup solutions have become much more common in recent years but pose a number of dangers.  With online backup the ability to store and recover your data is dependent entirely on the bandwidth of the service and your company.   Online backup solutions also bring up a number of security concerns.    Since your data will be stored on someone else’s servers you need to be careful that it will be properly protected.  Because of these two concerns an online backup solution is very risky and should be avoided for critical data.

External hard drive backup solutions are an option but require diligence to be reliable.  With this solution data must be backed up daily and switched out regularly.  Some systems accommodate easily swappable hard drives which will allow you to quickly backup and store data.  The benefit of external hard drive backups is that they are highly mobile and allow you to store your backup data in a separate secure location.  Caution should be taken, however, as this solution requires a high amount of effort on the part of its users.

Tape backup systems are much more reliable than CD’s and online backup solutions but are considerably more expensive.  Note that tape systems require their own maintenance routines. Tape machines need to have their heads cleaned regularly and will need annual replacement to ensure reliability.   Tapes when not in use should also be stored externally in a safe secure location.

If your company is large enough to benefit from it, a Virtual Storage solution adds the ultimate in performance and reliability.  For added security you should consider combining your backup solutions with off-site storage.  An off-site storage location should provide a fireproof and disaster proof solution for the storage of your data.

Choosing the right backup solution for your business can be a difficult task but no matter how large or small it should be a priority.  If your system backup has not been tested regularly it should be assumed that your business is in danger.  An untested backup solution is as bad as no backup solution.  Not only does it have a high chance of failure but it also gives a false sense of security.  If you need assistance with your choice contact IT Computer Support of New York and our business network technicians will walk you through the steps your business will need for a proper backup storage solution.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department