Data protection is crucial for protecting your business's continuity. If your only data backup is on a computer, and the hard disk fails or is damaged by a power surge, your business data is gone. And having paper copies of business data isn't adequate data protection; what if your business premises burn to the ground or experience severe flooding? Once again the data you need to carry on your business could be irretrievably lost.
For adequate data protection, you need to establish a data backup system that follows these three steps:
- archive business data regularly;
- create data backups on reliable media;
- keep updated data backups in a secure, off-site location.
The basic rule for business data protection is that if losing the data will interfere with doing business, back it up. You can reinstall software programs if you need to, but recovering the details of transactions or business correspondence is impossible if those files are lost or damaged beyond repair. The rest of this article outlines each of the steps listed above so you can establish a data backup system that will effectively protect your critical business data from disaster.
1) Archiving Critical Business Data
Archiving business data is more than a matter of good housekeeping; it could be a matter of your business's survival. There are two steps to archiving business data for successful data backup;
- identifying the critical data that needs to be archived
- and using a data archiving method on a regular schedule.
What needs to be archived in a data backup? Executables, such as software programs, dont need to be. You dont create new versions of executable programs and, as Ive said, if a software program was lost or corrupted, you could reinstall it fairly easily.
However, all of the files that youve created and/or modified should be regularly backed up. For many businesses, this includes everything from accounting files through email.
You can simplify your backup archiving by keeping all the files that will need to be archived on a single drive on your computer. For instance, suppose I need to back up accounting files, word-processing documents, spreadsheets, photo and email. Putting Simply Accounting, Microsoft Office (including Outlook) and Paintshop Pro all on the D:/ drive makes it easier for me to archive all the files Ive created or modifed using those programs. All I have to do is back up the drive. While I dont have to back up executables, it doesnt hurt them if I do.
Once you've selected the critical data to be archived, it's a simple matter to install and use a backup software program to archive your business data on a regular schedule.
I recommend backing up your data nightly. There are many backup software programs available that allow you to set a schedule that will archive your data automatically. Look for backup software that zips and encrypts files to save disk space and increase data security.
If possible, backup over your computer network, keeping your data backup files on a separate hard drive from the original files. If this isn't possible because you have a stand-alone computer, put your data backup files in a separate directory, and increase your schedule for creating physical backups.
What kind of physical data backup system is best for data protection? Continue on to page 2...