I read an article this week in the newspaper which made my hair stand on end, about a poor techie guy who tried to fix a computer, and reformatted the hard drive … and the backup … and lost client records worth $48 billion.

You can read the whole story on the SMH website – Canadian authorities had to work around the clock to try to right the wrong.

This is a prime example of how easily we can lose all our records, client details, invoices, passwords, absolutely everything we had on a computer … by only having one backup.

I always maintain that at least 2 backups of data are best – and should be kept in a different location. If you keep your backup with your computer, it could be stolen, lost in fire or flood. If you keep an additional backup offsite [at your home etc] then you have a good chance of getting back the data.

This brings to mind that great old question, “How often should I backup?”

My answer to this is, “How much work would you like to LOSE?” If you didn’t backup your computer for a week, could you easily re-do the last week’s worth of work? Or maybe your computer is your business’ lifeblood, and the amount of work it does should be backed up daily? Only you can answer this.

I know one guy who faithfully backed up an organisation’s databases every month, onto the same computer. This scared me for the following reasons:

  • sometimes there might be up to 10 people making changes to the databases on any given work day, so LOTS of updates were happening
  • multiply that by the number of work days in a month, say 20 days, multiplied by 5-10 people per day, and that’s a LOT of work
  • couple that with the MONTHLY backup which should have been done DAILY
  • then just to make it interesting, put the backups on the SAME computer
  • and just to top it of,there wasn’t any written Backup Procedure so no-one apart from one person had any idea how to perform the backup, or check if it was done, where the backup was kept – they didn’t know how to begin to even start the backup process.

Yes, it’s a real story, and yes, you guessed it, the computer [server] hard drive failed in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year, and in the middle of a huge project where this data was crucial.

So, what happened? After a couple of days of angst by all management and staff, an external company was finally able to retrieve the data at a huge sum of money. You might not be so lucky. You might not be able to get any data back [like the story I mentioned above].

Two months later, my next question to this company was, “What NEW procedures are now in place to prevent this happening again?”

I was surprised to find out that :

  • there is still no written backup procedure
  • daily backups are now being done – this is a good thing
  • they are being saved on the same computer – again – this is a bad thing
  • a new monthly backup is copied to another server on the network – this is a good and a bad thing – what if the whole network goes down? How can the staff keep working?
  • a Disaster Recover Plan would cover all these eventualities and would ensure better procedures were in place
  • there is no backup done to an external hard drive or CDs which can be taken offsite.

So has this company survived with flying colours?

No, they have survived this first disaster by the seat of their pants.

The potential for a similar disaster is high, and they are at great risk of the same thing happening again.

What’s the solution?

  1. the database backup person should meet with management and staff to determine the frequency of backups, storage of off-site backup etc
  2. create a written Backup Procedure which clearly defines exactly how the backup is done, how frequently, passwords, location of server, etc
  3. create a written Disaster Recovery Plan, and clearly state how to best proceed in the case of fire, sprinkler damage, flood, hard drive failure, stolen equipment and any other possible eventuality
  4. test your offsite backup once a month – many companies forget to do this, become complacent, and when they try to RESTORE from a backup, they discover that it wasn’t working properly.

By taking these 4 simple steps, disaster can be avoided.

This applies from a one person company to huge corporations. Everyone with a computer should think about what would happen if they came to work and the computer was gone.

How much DATA can you afford to LOSE?

I hope this gives you some food for thought this weekend,

About the author

 How to delete $48 billion Hi, I'm Teena Hughes and I'm a techno-geek who loves the internet, technology and the fast pace of exciting new innovations. I love to share my knowledge and experience with others by helping them create their websites, build an online presence, become an expert in their field by using techniques like SEO, video marketing, online & offline marketing and many other groovy tools :-) If you'd like some help or to be pointed in the right direction, contact me today - I'd love to chat and to offer help in an easy-to-understand way, with easy-to-follow instructions and guidance.
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