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Increasingly our data is our business. Lose your data, you could very well lose your business. Ninety-four percent of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss do not survive — 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years, according to a study by the University of Texas.
Step 1: Locate your data
The first step in mitigating this risk in your particular realm is to locate all your important data. In many cases, it also makes sense to classify the data as to its importance and sensitivity. Don’t forget about those cloud applications and cloud storage services.
Step 2: Look for opportunities to simplify
Does your organization encourage the use of central repositories such as file servers or cloud storage? It’s easier to keep track of something if it is all in one place. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox and OneDrive are great in that they automatically make another copy of our stuff that we can get at from another device if we should lose, break, or intentionally set fire to our main computer device. The trick is to use them for our current works in progress. Those are the files you are going to miss the most if you lose your hard drive. It’s also worth noting the limitations of cloud storage. Your basic cloud storage service only stores the most recent copy of your data and if you delete something on your computer, it’s also gone on the server.
Step 3: Make a plan
It is generally advisable to have three copies of your critical company data, two on-site and one off-site. This is commonly referred to the 3-2-1 backup strategy. Why three copies? Because you want one close at hand for equipment failures and the like that allows you to recover quickly from a problem. Let’s say a mastodon steps on your laptop. If you have an external hard drive, you can connect that to another computer and keep on working. The off-site copy is for bigger problems like a fire.
Recovering an entire file server is going to go much faster if the backup is located near the server. Recovering from a cloud backup service could take a very long time, depending on the amount of data you have. There are backup solutions for servers that can have you back up and running in minutes because they basically are redundant servers that periodically copy data from your actual servers.
For each of your data locations, chose your backup tactics. Automatic is best because you won’t neglect to do your backup. For Mac computers, the built-in Time Machine is an excellent way to backup your data to an external hard drive. It keeps as many past versions of your files as your storage device will allow. Windows has a built-in backup application, appropriately called, Backup. You can find that in the Settings under Update & Security on Windows 10.
To keep an off-site copy of everything on your computer, there are cloud-based backup services such as BackBlaze and Carbonite. It would be a great idea to use one of these in addition to regularly backing up to an external hard drive.
Step 4: Test your backups
This part is often overlooked. You could wait for disaster to strike to test your backups, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Take an old computer and restore your backup to make sure it works and has all the files that you expect it to have
Step 5: Congratulate yourself
You can now rest easy knowing that you are not going to lose your business if a mastodon or office fire happens to come along.
Andy Jorgensen is IT lead at SkyDrop (getskydrop.com), until recently know as Flirtey, a Reno-based aerospace technology company and drone delivery manufacturer that sells full-stack drone delivery hardware and software systems, and NCET’S VP of creative services.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. (www.NCET.org)