This is a very popular question with many answers. Your data is your “baby;” it needs to be protected as often as possible to ensure business continuity and to make sure your data is making you money — IT as a profit center. The two main considerations are:
- How much data do you have?
- How often does your data change?
How much data do you have?
The total amount of data you have is comprised of all your programs (the operating system on your computers and servers and all applications – Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Microsoft Exchange, etc.) and all of the files created in those programs (Word and Excel files, Adobe PDF files, etc.). The amount of space you need on your external (and off-site) backup device/server is four times the amount of data you currently have. With the growth of data and almost all documents now being created and distributed electronically, your backup space requirements will increase exponentially.
To make the final calculation, you will need to sit in front of each computer and open Windows Explorer and click on the C Drive (and any other drives on the computer or server) and record the total amount of space used. For true business continuity (and disaster recovery), you should be backing up your entire server, not just the files. In the event of a disaster, you want to be back up and running quickly, not having to reload all of your programs manually and then accessing your backup server/device to copy files back to each server/computer.
How often does your data change?
Some businesses save files only a few times each day, while others are constantly saving document changes or have customer portals with log-ins all day long from their customers. Best practice is to do an incremental backup (only backing up what changed since the last backup) at least twice each day (noon and 6pm for a business open 8 to 5). The more backups you do each day, the more space you will need on your local and off-site backup. For true disaster recovery, it is best to backup four times each day (9am, 12pm, 3pm and 6pm). With the cost of hard drives continuing to come down, it is best to purchase as much storage space as you can reasonably afford now so as to not need to upgrade for a few years. One way to see your IT as a profit center is to not have to buy new equipment every year.
Final consideration – have you checked your backup lately?
It is a great first step in your quest for business continuity to have regular backups of your entire server/computers (versus just the files). However, you only know how good your backup is when you need to restore something (a file or your entire server). You don’t want to find out that your backup is corrupted when you really need it. Invest in great backup software to make sure your backups are verified right after they complete (and make sure the backup software verifies each backup when it replicates to your office site backup facility/service).
We use Shadow Protect from a company named Storage Craft. This software allows for real-time verification and can alert you if there is an error in your current backup so you can manually start another backup to make sure no backups are missed. Also consider investing in inexpensive off-site backup space. You can never have too many backups and you can never have them in too many locations. Our IT and backup services will help you see IT as a profit center by taking care of your most valuable asset — data.
About Accelera IT Solutions
Accelera IT Solutions is a Phoenix, Arizona-based provider of complete IT services and solutions including on-site support, remote support, data backup and replication (to our secure data center), consulting for HIPAA and PCI compliance, IT project management and cyber-security audits and planning. Accelera also specializes in hardware consulting and installation/setup of servers, workstation, laptops and desktops. Contact Accelera at 623-266-4190 or at www.acceleradata.com.