How to Back Up Effectively

What happens if your server loses all your data right now? You don’t want to think about it do you?

Backing up effectively is the best way to remove the worry about data loss. January is here and Technical Drive’s IT New Years Resolutions keep coming.

Today we focus on two questions, about your back up system:

Do you have the data?


How long can you survive without it up and running?

Do you have the data?

The first step to answering this question is by preparing for the most common cause of data loss: Hardware or Software failure.

Data loss caused by this, when prepared for correctly, is no problem.

A NAS (Network Attached Storage device) is connected up to your server and the server backs up to this. The frequency, of these back ups, can vary from real time to daily; your IT support provider will be able to recommend the most appropriate and cost effective solution for you.


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But what if you have a fire in the server room? That takes out your server and your onsite back up?

This is where your offsite back up comes in. Two of the most common, for SME's, are USB Drives and Cloud based back ups.


USB Drive back up is nice and simple. You plug in a USB drive, the server places a back up on the drive and you take it away, in case of that nasty server room fire.

This is a cheap and effective way of backing up, but USBs can be lost or the back up may fail (not to mention the security implications of having all your business data lying in your fruit bowl). Best practice is to have multiple drives in a rotation, this way you have multiple attempts at restoring the data.


Cloud based back up is where your back up is saved in the cloud to be downloaded at your convenience. This is a hands off approach to backup. Though there are recurring costs involved in services like his and if you have a poor internet connection it may not be effective at all.

Both of these types of off site back up have pros and cons. Discuss with your IT support provider the best solution for you.


How long is it going to take to get me up and running?

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Historically, your back ups would be performed in a granular manner. This was much like the monks of old, who would copy books line by line. Unlike these monks, if a granular back up meets an error, the backup ends buts looks complete, until you attempt to restore it to your server, when it fails.

Not only is this not a reliable method of back up but when it comes to placing this back up onto a server, to make your network functional, it can take an engineer between one and a half and two and a half days, to complete the install.

Could your business survive this?

Image back ups are more effective. This is more like a camera. It takes a photo of all of your data, warts and all. This can be restored without as much risk of corrupted and unusable data. Image backups are also much quicker to install on your server, in as little as four hours sometimes.

There are other steps you can take to minimise the down time, in the event of server failure, but these may not be cost effective to your business.

When implementing backup systems, think about how long your business can function without access to its data and discuss with your IT support provider the most cost effective way of meeting you time frame.