Technology Today…

The power in your hands

Are your files safe? Let’s backup and find out! (guest blog)

Let’s face it, we are slaves to our computers. Over the years they have become the be‐all‐end‐all repository for our ‘stuff’. Email, pictures, even personal financial data can most likely be found somewhere on that magical 7,200 rpm array of platters known as your hard drive. It’s a great place to store your stuff, but what will you do when your valuable information is completely gone?

I’m usually pretty good about backing things up. I have automated jobs that run on my computer and will back up my important information like documents, Quicken data files, and the ever growing Outlook mail file. Every so often I’ll move these backups from my local hard drive to my personal folder on our LAN. From there they’ll be assimilated as part of our daily and weekly tape backups then inevitably become part of our ‘sneaker’ backups that walk out the door with me and go offsite to my home as part of our disaster recovery strategy.

Sounds foolproof, right?

Recently someone broke in to our corporate offices, ran down the hall, grabbed any computer that was in plain view, and ran out the rear exit. Fortunately they only managed to grab three boxes, but my work computer was one of them. On that computer was everything I had been accumulating over the many years of running my business. All my digital records were on that computer. I had email dating back 15 years, some from people who are no longer alive. I had job applications, resumes, contact information and corporate financial reports; and it was all completely gone in less than 5 minutes on a Saturday morning.

You can replace hardware quickly given the plethora of Best Buys and Office Depots that are scattered around town, so that part was painless. I had a new computer up and running in a few hours. However, when it came time to restore my data from backups, I found out that my backups were corrupt! Wait, it gets better. Not just one of my backups had failed, but all of them had failed! The LAN backups, the offsite tap backups, even DVD backups of my backups failed to relinquish my cherished data. There was apparently a flaw in my backup process which caused my original backups to be corrupt. So when I moved them to our LAN and eventually offsite, they too were corrupt. Needless to say, I really did have
to rebuild my digital information from scratch as all my records were gone.

I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience. While backups are great, they’re only great if they can be restored. Testing the integrity of a backup, whether it be a local backup, or a backup stored remotely, is a key component to ensuring that it can be restored. There are quite a few backup options out there in the world today. You can choose to backup electronically via a secured Internet connection, or you can use the old‐school ‘sneaker’ method and have your backup hand carried offsite. While both methods have their advantages, they are only as reliable as the underlying data being transported.

Although my backup experience failed me personally, no pun intended, I still see great value in offsite backups, especially for the corporate world. I highly recommend a combination of local backups for fast access to help cure the accidental ‘deletes’ which can happen on any given day. I also recommend replicating all workstation backups out to a shared LAN drive as that helps protect you when your workstation magically gets legs and walks out the door. Finally, offsite backups are a critical component to ensure that you can recover from any disaster in your facility. Sneaker driven backups, or electronically transported backups, either will offer a piece of mind key to the success of today’s business.

Michael J. Ryan
CEO
South River Technologies, Inc.

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August 1, 2011 - Posted by | Audience Communication

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