19 September 2008
Don’t forget your backups
While any form of backup is better than none, the best test of backup plans is checking your data protection against the likely scenarios you may be unfortunate enough to encounter. The speed of retrieving data and minimising potential data loss are the key factors you should try to achieve.
Disasters start on the personal level. Perhaps you accidentally delete a file from the file server and need to get it back straight away. The ideal backup for this is a duplicate onto disk of data. It is then immediately available for transfer back onto the server . The amount of data loss is dictated by how often the duplicate is run. Nightly is ideal as the maximum data loss would be one day’s worth of work.
Accidental deletion of email is mitigated against by the configuration of internal mail servers. Using IMAP or Exchange Protocols means all mail is retained on the mail server. Settings on an Exchange (www.microsoft.com) or Kerio mail server (http://kerio.com) allow deleted emails to be retained for a certain time such as 30 days, so a recently trashed email can be recovered.
The server itself will need a plug-in from the backup software or a data export routine that allows all mail/diary and contact data to be included in the main backup system. If you are still have email-hosted POP accounts for email, change now — you are running the risk of data loss.
Getting back from holiday and finding that the last time you worked on a file it became corrupted requires a different approach. The ability to go back to earlier versions of a file is best achieved using incremental backups. These start with a full copy of the entire data set and append any changes to the data each time it is run. Incremental backups should again be executed each night.
Turning up to an office that has been burgled, or worse, subjected to fire or flood, are the nightmare scenarios. Adequate protection is not achievable where the backup media is adjacent to the device it is backing up. The answer is to backup on more than one set of media to achieve each backup function. The two or more sets of media can then be rotated to ensure one set is always in a “safe” location.
An alternative is using backup over the internet to another office in the organisation or an online-hosted backup. This allows the day’s data to be backed up offsite, reducing potential data loss.
Disadvantages are the limitations of your internet connection to cope with the level of daily data transfer and the speed of recovery of the full data set from the remote location. Set against this is the reassurance afforded to the office that the offsite backup is not reliant on the right person picking up the backup media and remembering to remove it from site.
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