Backup Vs Disaster Recovery
I cannot count the number of times I have had the following conversation.
Me: Do you have data backups of your critical data?
Client: Yes, we backup every day.
Me: Do you have a disaster recovery plan?
Client: Yes, as I mentioned, we backup every day.
This makes me cringe because it immediately tells me the client’s business is at significant risk — and they don’t even realize that they are even susceptible. It’s time for a little education on backups versus disaster recovery.
Data backups are just that — a backup of your data stored somewhere. The ideal situation for data backup is as follows:
· All data is backed up on a daily basis to an external source (like an external hard drive) in your office
· Mission-critical data is backed up offsite using the internet to a third-party location
· Periodic validation of the backup data (typically monthly or quarterly)
We often find that companies do numbers 1 and 2, but almost none do the most critical step 3 — validation. Data backup software can run “successfully” and look good, but that does not mean the underlying data itself is good. If data is corrupt, backup software will not know this, and it will back up the “bad” data successfully. The only way to know if the backup data is good is to actually look at it periodically to confirm it is accurate.
We recommend clients restore select files from their backups on a regular basis and examine them for accuracy. The best method is to execute a full system restore once a year to ensure all files are valid. However, many companies cannot afford the downtime nor have the expertise to do such a drill. A partial file restore is better than none at all.
However, data backups do NOT provide the ability for a company to recover quickly in the event of a disaster that compromises their core data. A disaster could be as dramatic as a fire taking your building out, or something as simple as theft or a prolonged power outage. In any of these scenarios, you may have your data backed up, but you have no place to put that data to get your systems up and running. Consequently, recovery time can often take weeks.
Disaster recovery, on the other hand, means having not only your data in an offsite location, but the additional hardware required to bring all your systems online quickly — in hours, not days or weeks.
A disaster recovery solution includes the following:
· Data backed up on a regular basis to an offsite data centre
· Hardware in place to bring all systems online when a disaster is declared
· Technical resources available to bring the systems online and redirect users to the offsite location
Most small- to mid-sized organizations have disaster recovery as a “to do” item on their list. But due to the high cost of building and maintaining a second location, they are unable to ever cross it off of that list.