Posted by Alexandra
Last month we ran an article about the speed of the internet connection. Have you tested yours at speedtest.net?
This month, we would like to stress the importance of backups. To “back up” means to have copies of your data that you can rely on to recover from a virus, unintentional deletion of data, or total hard drive failure. We recommend following the Rule of 3, which means that you have three different current copies of your data at any given point in time. These include the original files that you work with every day, a local copy stored on a separate hard drive, and an offsite copy in case a twister takes your whole office to the Land of Oz. It helps to have a faster internet connection when uploading files offsite.
Computers and other hardware are easily replaced commodities. Often you can get new hardware shipped overnight. On the other hand, recreating years of financial data, photos, and documents can be extremely expensive and quite possibly sink your business or organization. One thing you can be absolutely sure of is your hard drive will fail. They are mechanical devices and have limited life spans. Modern SSD (Solid State Drives) also have lifespans and are actually less reliable than the older spinning disk drives. We usually replace our computers before they fail, but that is not always the case. Why play the odds with your valuable data?
Features of a good backup program include:
Automation–Once set up, the whole backup process happens without your intervention. If you do manual backups of your critical data, you may forget or accidentally overwrite the source files.
Notification–If something goes wrong with the process, you know about it via email or text message.
Versioning–Suppose you got one of those nasty viruses that dwell in your computer for several days before you know about it. Will last night’s backup come to the rescue? No, it’s probably infected too. How about from a week ago, or two weeks ago? Now we’re talking. A backup program that incorporates versioning provides you with a set of backups from the past that you can use if the most recent one is no good.
Retention–Retention settings control how many versions of the backup are stored. A typical retention scheme gives you a set of backups from the past hour to the past month or year. While a good backup program uses strategies to reduce the storage space used by backups, longer retention will of course need more space.
Imaging–Sometimes a computer really takes a dive. The traditional recovery method includes tedious re-installation of the operating system, programs, patches, updates and recovery of files from a backup. Disk imaging dramatically shortens this process by creating backups of an entire computer. If the computer needs to be rebuilt or replaced, all that is necessary to recover it is to make sure the hardware is healthy and then draw on a good disk image.
Testing–It has been said that a backup untested is nonexistent. The time to make sure your backups are viable (particularly disk images) is before you need them. We have seen too many companies who have a false sense of security as they change the backup tapes daily for months or years only to discover that nothing was backed up!
Encryption–We mentioned an offsite copy, right? That means your data gets uploaded to a server over the internet and stored… well, somewhere else. Strong point-to-point encryption ensures that no one but you can recover your data. Your data becomes “secret code” that only you have the keys to. If someone managed to get hold of your data (including any hackers, or three letter agencies) on the remote server, it would be unreadable gibberish to them.