Disaster Recovery: The Most Critical Part to Data Backups

| February 13, 2013

A year ago, in February, 2012, tornadoes ripped through Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama causing massive devastation. Businesses that were fortunate had to suffer through minor interruptions of utility services, with others paying a far steeper price. In fact, a colleague of mine who also offers IT services had his office in Joplin reduced to a pile of rubble. This got me thinking about how important disaster recovery planning is to any business.

No one expects terrible things to happen, but when they do, having that plan in place can really save your bacon. And one of the MOST important aspects of this is the recovery part – how you are going to get that data back onto a working platform that allows you to continue serving your customers and operating your business. The shocker for most business owners is that simply having a copy of the data does NOT guarantee a fast recovery. Let me give you an analogy to help you understand.

Let’s suppose we put together a disaster recovery plan for your home. Your house would represent the server and platform, and all your furniture and personal items would be the data. Now let’s suppose we could make a backup of your home by making an exact copy of everything that’s in your house (all your furniture, appliances, clothing, etc.) and storing it in a “backup” shed. Then the unthinkable happens: your house gets leveled by a tornado, flood or fire and everything is gone (or a critical part of it is damaged and needs to be replaced). You would think, “Well, at least I have a copy!” True, but the first thing you would need to do is replace the home itself (remember, that’s the platform that everything resides on). Next you would have to “reinstall” the services like gas, electricity and water (let’s call that the software). Then you would have to haul everything from the shed back to the house and “reformat” it by arranging it into the house. Depending on the extent of the damage done to your house, that could take days or weeks; chances are you’d have to find a hotel to live out of in the meantime. In addition, there’s the time and cost of moving everything back in and re-arranging and restoring everything to its proper place.

Plus, the above assumes you have a recent, working copy of your entire home and everything in it. If you failed to make a copy – or if the shed where you were storing everything had a water leak that destroyed everything inside due to mold – then you’re really out of luck.

Of course, this is a simple analogy – and there are ways to back up your data and network so that recovery can happen inexpensively in a matter of hours versus days or weeks. But if you simply think having a tape backup is going to be your saving grace, you might be unpleasantly surprised. I can’t tell you the number of businesses who ended up losing incredibly valuable, irreplaceable data because they didn’t think through the RECOVERY part of the backup equation.

So what do you need to think about? First, the way you backup your data should be based on how important your data is and how fast you would need to be back up and running in the event of a disaster. If losing your data would only be a mild inconvenience and you could stand to be down for a couple of days, then tape backups may be okay. If that’s not an option for you and there are certain critical functions that need to happen to keep you from getting into hot water with your customers and to prevent you losing a LOT of cash, then you want something more reliable than tape drives.

The BEST thing to do is contact with a technology support company to go over your needs and expectations for what should happen in the event of downtime or an outright disaster. That way you know for sure what to expect and – more importantly – how to accurately prepare for a disaster.

Category: Technology

About the Author ()

Email | Website | Alex Bleam is a Principal Partner of Frogworks, a computer service and IT support company located in Alexandria Virginia. Mr. Bleam has over 25 years of experience in providing information technology to clients.