Backups Save Business, Backing Up a Hard Drive Introduction
This is very, very important. Backing up your computer system regularly, in particular your data, should be one of the most important tasks of every computer user and not just business users. If you’re in business, then making regular backups is doubly important.
- In times of disaster everyone wants their backups, but few remember to make them.
Did you know that only a minority of us do backups thoroughly and regularly. The rest of us are flirting with disaster every day. The number of incidents that can destroy the data on your computer system, particularly if you have the kids playing in proximity to the computer, is phenomenal.
If you have a small business, just think what would happen to that business if you lost all your data. No more copies of letters, invoices, etc. All you client details gone. You accounts ruined. Your orders cleared. Your banking details lost forever!
Catastrophic Data Loss
Catastrophic data loss is generally seen as something that happens to other people. Statistics indicate that you stand a very good chance of being the next ‘other person’. In a recent US survey, thirty percent of PC users had lost all of their files due to events beyond their control and 60% of companies that lost their data shut down within 6 months of the loss event. Most business owners are aware of the risk and most think they have backup under control. In reality, very few companies are adequately prepared for even minor data loss events.
- So, what are you doing now and what should you be doing to ensure business continuity in the event that all your data disappears?
The most common disasters are hardware failures due to normal equipment wear and tear or general accidents. Hardware failures can happen at any time and without warning. They include incidents such as unreadable internal and external hard drives, unreadable CDs, DVDs, etc. In fact anything hardware related which causes the lose of your valuable data.
- YOUR DATA IS OF PRIME IMPORTANCE.
Incidents such as the loss of your computer, printer, network, internet, etc. don’t really matter providing your data survives. Sure, the incident might cause a little frustration and these items might be expensive to replace but they are just “things”, they don’t really matter.
Human Error and Software Failures
The most common disasters related to the loss of data due to software failures are computer virus attacks and human error such as deleting the wrong file or accidentally formatting or partitioning the wrong hard drive. This type of data lost can not only be a cause for great frustration but also result in a lot of hair loss.
- Backups are the single most effective method of preventing data loss on computer systems.
A Typical Data Failure Scenario
First let me give you a typical data failure scenario. You computer crashes, the computer is working but your operating system and data is toast (damaged beyond repair). The hard drive has catastrophically failed.
Don’t think this scenario doesn’t happen. I lost three hard drives in one year, with one hard drive failing within a matter of days of being installed and the data restored. Ok, that was really unlucky, but it does happen. On the other hand the system I’m using to write this article hasn’t failed in the last five years, but who knows when it might fail. Everything fails eventually.
- As an aside, I’ve used Acronis backup and restore software since about 2010, i.e., Acronis True Image with an external USB hard drive (capacity 1TB) for my backup solution.
Data Recovery Without Backups
To restore you system and data without backups:
First you need to reinstall the operating system and all the software applications you use. Time approx. 6 hours, at best. This presumes you can find all the software you were using and the associated serial numbers. It also presumes you’re an expert on the installation and configuration of your hardware and software systems.
- When was the last time you had to completely restore your computer systems from scratch?
Next comes the really important bit, data recovery (the information which your business needs to survive and make a profit). The recovery time for this is indeterminate!
Without a backup the only way you can “recover” the data is by re-entering the information into the computer again. Do you remember everything that was on your computer? Unlikely. Even if you could remember or reproduce the data, how long would it take to enter the data into your computer system and be up and running again? Weeks, months, never!
Data Recovery with Backups
With backups the recovery procedure is relatively painless.
Attach the backup media, an external USB hard drive in my case. Boot up the recovery disk (DVD) and select recover from the menu. Follow the instructions. Time to fully functioning computer with all data restored, approx. 25 minutes.
- That time includes both the operating system and all your data recovered.
The only downside to the scenario using backups is that your computer will be restored to the state it was in at your last backup. So everything between the last backup and the time of the failure will be lost.
- Moral of the story! Use backups and backup regularly.
When to Backup? What Files to Backup?
You don’t need to backup absolutely everything every time you do a backup but you should consider what files to backup. Backing up means keeping copies of the data you need to work with on a daily, monthly, or quarterly basis.
- So, what files to backup? What data could you not afford to be without for even a day? Most of that will be financial and customer data, depending upon the nature of your business.
- Also consider the cost of re-entering lost data by hand and what that would mean in terms of lost productivity or customers.
Q: When should you backup your data?
A: Sooner rather than latter. More often rather than less often.
For a businesses, small or other wise I would recommend backing up you data daily. This can be an incremental backup, so it should be very easy and very quick to do. A matter of a few minutes.
As well as your daily incremental backups you should do a complete system backup at the very least once a month, preferably weekly. I say this because it can be quite tedious restoring from dozens of incremental backups.
Test Your Backup
It’s alarming how many companies never actually test their backup systems. Your backup software should verify the backup image at the time of the backup but the only true test is to do a full recovery of the backup. Unfortunately, unless you have a spare, duplicate computer, this can be very difficult to do.
Where to Keep the Data Backup?
If your backup copies are not stored in a secure place, they’re not backups. A secure place means a fireproof safe that is also secured from theft and preferably offsite. Think fire, flood or some other natural or otherwise disaster beyond your control.
- In the bottom draw of the filing cabinet or on the top shelf of the cupboard is not a secure place!
Backups Save Business, Backing Up a Hard Drive Conclusion
For a robust backup system I would recommend using a 1TB external USB hard drive and Acronis backup and restore software, i.e., True Image 2013 by Acronis. This configuration will last you for years and is very reasonably priced.
Acronis True Image protects your content, recovers your data in case of any disasters, and syncs it with all your devices or across computers. Safe, reliable, easy, it’s the ultimate in digital protection. This is the backup software I’ve been using for years. Acronis have a True Image 2013 Free trial here.
If you need a more advanced solution or related backup products then you might like to read my articles:
Well, I hope you found something useful and enjoyed this article, Backups Save Business, Backing Up a Hard Drive.