Backups and Options
Backups are a hot topic with some people, others could care less. If you have a business and you value your data, you must have a backup and disaster recovery plan. See "options" below.
Ask anyone who has lost an important file, over wrote a file by accident, lost a hard disk or suffered data loss from an Internet worm and you will likely be talking to someone who backs up. You will really appreciate the value of a good backup the most after a failure. Don't wait for the failure to have a solution in place. Reference this article from PC Magazine regarding the need for backups.
A good backup is nothing more than an insurance policy. You don't purchase health insurance because you plan on getting sick any more than you would backup your files thinking you will need it, but bad things happen. I hate to say this is amusing but every time I hear from a customer that they need help, restoring a file from a backup, they tell me "this is not a good time for this to happen". There is never a good time. For those who use a backup because they had a problem in the past, they're in panic mode if it isn't working correctly. Backups are one of the necessities of computing that many people could care less about.
A disaster recovery plan in the form of a good backup routine is a must whether you are a one person company or have 1,000 employees and a good external image backup rotation is the best solution. An on-site backup image is necessary to be able to restore the complete system but should be used in conjunction with a cloud storage solution.
A local image backup is going to be the easiest and quickest way to get your system back up and running, the way it was, if you experienced a hard drive failure or operating system corruption. If you have a central location, such as a file server, where ALL the data is being stored, that's the drive that needs consistent backups. If all you are backing up is data you invariably will miss something important and we have seen situations where backing up "data only" was mistakenly backing up the wrong files causing several man years of data input to be lost that could not be recovered. (Of course the customer wants to blame the support people thinking they should have been able to do something, some of us are good, but we can't work miracles.).
The prime difference between a data backup, (assuming you have ALL the data actually being backed up), and a full image backup is the time required to recover from a disaster. (That's more important then the time required to do the backup since it's usually done after hours). Maybe 2 hours to get you back where you were using a disk image. The data backups don't typically take into account where some of the configuration information and data are stored. Some software, like Quicken products, don't store the data in the "My Documents" folder by default but that's only one example. Remember that an additional 2 or 4 hours to get back in business could cost you real money in lost business and productivity. There are few things worse than having your employees sitting on their hands waiting for the computers to come back to life. One worse thing is to tell your customers you can't check on something because the computers are down.
We are asked how frequently someone should backup. The answer is fairly simple. In any given day you have input enough information that you wouldn't want to attempt recreating it from scratch, that's the day you should backup. For most businesses that means every day.
Exteranl drive images. There are several decent to good programs available. Macrium Reflect is my current image backup program of choice but Acronis Trueimage workes well too.
Cloud backup, (only for data, not intended for disaster recovery). I have either used or had customers use dozens of different companies for cloud backup. Over the years some of those cutomers quit because they weren't comfortable with not knowing if it wqas really backing everything up. Amond the major player are iDrive, Carbonite, Mozy and a few others. My preference is a company few people have heard of, Code42, otherwise known as Crashplan. What is fairly unique about Crashplan is that whatever plan you select the space and renention of the files is unlimted and indefinite and the flexibilty of the settings and options can't be matched.
I remember a new customer showing me around their business and bragging about their systems and backup routines. Then they informed me that someone broke into their business the previous week and stole the computers and the backups. Back to square one. They now keep 2 copies of their backups off-site
95% of our customers use eitgher a USB connected disk or network attached storage for backups and easily half of them have experienced a problem that required restoring one or more files from the drive. It was a wise investment.
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