The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, July 28, 2006

Backup – Is your data really safe?

Will you ever experience a major computer crash which causes you to lose all your data? Whilst it is not a common event, computer crashes do occur; and there are 5 standard causes of data loss to look out for.

The most frequent cause of data loss is hard drive failure. Hard drives are the equivalent of a filing cabinet. What most people do not know is that 5% of new hard drives fail every year and the probability of failure increases as drives age. Let me put that statistic a different way. Imagine if 5 out of every 100 new filing cabinets purchased mysteriously imploded, resulting in complete the loss of their contents. Would you insure your business against it? I am guessing you would! Which is why you should insure yourself against computer data loss by having a thorough backup system.

The four other causes of data loss are:

1. Accidental deletion of files
2. Malicious software such as viruses, worms, trojans and spyware
3. Theft of computer equipment
4. Fire

To be properly prepared for data loss, a backup should meet 5 important criteria, it should be:

1. Automatic: The backup should occur automatically without any human intervention.

2. Duplicated: It is vital that you have complete redundancy in your backup strategy to protect against your backup media failing you;

3. Off-site: It is important to store the backup offsite to protect against either theft and disasters such as a fire or flood;

4. Tested: Test your backup regularly to ensure that it is actually working;

5. Monitored: There should be a log to track the backup; this can prove invaluable when trouble shooting failures.

When considering a backup system you should consider the following:

• Media: What are you going to backup to? We recommend external backup drives as they are cost effective and scalable allowing enormous amounts of data to be stored at a low cost. Alternatively you can use a remote backup service maintained by a company.

• Which data: Ensure that your backup system includes all your important data.

• Centralised: Having all your data centralised in a single location such as a file server will make data backup a lot easier

When considering your backup system ask yourself the following questions:

1. Could I recover from a major system crash which resulted in complete data loss? Think carefully about what you do during the day on your computer such as using emails and database programs.

2. Do I feel secure about my data? If you cannot answer Yes then you should have your system checked out by a computer technician.

3. Does your backup system meet the 5 criteria listed above?

Whatever you do for backup, ensure that you are properly covered. Remember that your backup strategy is protecting your data, your business, and your livelihood. Just as with car insurance, it seems unnecessary until you have an accident. Then you are glad you spent the time and money having it.

Damien Battersby is the Director of PC Diagnostics

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