80% of businesses who suffer a significant data loss are out of business within 18 months (Source - London Chamber of Commerce).
What is a backup?
A backup refers to making copies of data, in the event of loss of the original data; you can restore it from a backup copy. Backup systems can contain at least one copy of all worthwhile data, meaning the requirements for data storage are quite large at times.
Why should you back up?
Simply put, your data is the most valuable part of your IT system. Think about your database - what would happen if you lost it? How about your accounts data, or all your excel spreadsheets? Most businesses would struggle, and some would completely grind to a halt. Backups protect you from this. Hardware and software is easy to replace, your data isn't. Backing up is especially important if you have a network server.
What can happen to my data?
There are 5 main causes of data loss:
- Theft - Someone steals your computer or server. The data on there is lost.
- Fire - Unfortunately a reality, and the heat destroys your data.
- Virus - Some viruses target and delete your data
- Hardware Failure - Data is held on a hard drive, which is a mechanical device. these can fail
- User Error - Someone accidentally deletes data or writes over files.
Never store your backups near the original copies. If fire or theft occurs with the original copy then the same can most likely happen to the backup copy.
How can I protect my business?
By putting in place well thought out backup solutions you can minimize the risks and ensure that if the worst happened, all your valuable data is backed up. Your backup solution should take into account a safe and secure storage location for your backup copies, ideally a fireproof safe in a separate location.
How much is my data worth?
A good way of working out how valuable your data is to estimate the length of time it would take to re-create it. How long would it take to have someone re-type all the word documents your company relies on, or how many people would be needed to gather all the information in your database. You will probably see that the cost of your data is huge - in some cases it is priceless.
What Solutions are Available?
There are a number of different media's available for backup, each having different sizes and costs (The bigger the media/device, the greater the cost). Below are the main media's used:
- Optical Discs
- Hard Drives
- Remote Backup (Online)
What solution should I go for?
It depends entirely on your data and the amount of that data. A photographer can have hundreds of gigabytes of data so an online backup solution would be out of the question, as would tape or DVD backups. A business or user with lots of data would require a backup solution which uses external USB Hard Drives.
An online solution is ideal for users with lots of office documents as they small sized and are automatically backed up as well as being quick and easy to restore if data loss happens.
Depending on how quickly you would like your server restored in the event of damage which can’t be repaired also adds another equation into your backup solution. If you take regular backups of your entire server, the server information can be restored to a new server in around a day. If you had to reinstall a server from scratch it can take anywhere between a few days to a fortnight (depending on server size) which is costly and leaves you without your server.
How much will it cost?
Every business is different, and so systems vary. It all depends on how much data you have, and how frequently you want it backed up, there's no point in having a large backup system if you've only got a small amount of data to backup as it will be a costly system. A very small business may be able to have a good backup system from around £100, whereas one with a server and 5 employees may need to spend £1000. However, to keep this is perspective you must remember the value of your data.
How do I know which solution is best for me?