Every large organization has what is called a ‘disaster recovery’ plan. It’s a scary phrase that really mean, if someone drops a bomb on your building how does the business continue. They also refer to this as a Business Continuation Plan. Small businesses don’t think that way, but you need to. For example, a colleague recently lost his laptop a few weeks ago. I think for most professionals, this is a pretty bad day. But for him it was worse than a bad day because he is an entrepreneur and his laptop is his business, and he didn’t have a recent backup. Weeks of data lost and the pain was just starting. He had personal stuff on his laptop that required him to call the bank and change account info. Yeah, I call that a disaster. Today I had a conversation with another colleague that is currently having a similar experience. This week he lost his laptop lost and has no really good plan for recovery of lost data.
You don’t need a complex disaster recovery plan, but you do need to be able to answer one critical question for your business. The question: How does your business continue if you were to lose your computer this minute? Right now, today!!! If you’re backing up to an external hard drive you will quickly learn that this is not enough. You should really have an automated backup and recovery system. Another option is to use a program like dropbox that automatically save your files online in the cloud.
Think about it. Do you know any company in the world that doesn’t have automated backup daily of their corporate servers? Why should you have less for your business files? If you have a fire in your office or home and lose your computer and your backup hard drive, how do you recover from this?
This may be basic stuff for many and I’m shocked to still learn that many people still do not have an automatic backup and recovery system. So here are the main reasons why you need daily automated backups of your critical and non-critical files.
- It’s Automated
Yeah, I know, it’s an obvious point. But it’s a very important point. If you have to manually backup your system every day I guarantee you that it’s that week or month that you’re too busy to backup that your system will crash. It just happens that way. This happened to me some years ago. I was very good at doing my manual backups every day to my external hard drive. One month I remember we were very busy trying to meet some deadlines. Everyone was working around the clock. I forgot one day to backup, then there was some reason another day why I didn’t do it, and a day became a week and then a month or so then …. CRASH! OK, so that was painful. About four weeks of work, GONE!
With an automated backup system you don’t think about it. You can schedule the system to backup at a convenient time for you, for example 3am in the morning. The software starts automatically and backup your changed files to their server without your intervention. So only the files that were changed that day gets backup that day. You can also schedule the software to backup at anytime that you’re not actively using your computer. So maybe when you go to lunch the software will notice that you’re not active and will do the backup then. You won’t know it happened until it tells you that it’s done.
The main point is that you NEVER have to remember to do the backup… so you never have to worry about forgetting. If your computer crashes you don’t have to worry about losing file because you can guarantee that you have the latest backup of your files at all time.
2.Off Premise Storage
This is the next MOST important point. If you backup and the backup drive is in the same physical location as the computer being backed up, you’ve failed the test of a good disaster recovery plan. Remember the bomb went off on your building and all your technology in that location is destroyed, including your backup drive. So what do you do?
Backups need to be done to a different physical location. Send it to the cloud somewhere. It really doesn’t matter where, but it cannot be at the same location as your functional computer. This way you can be sure that regardless of what happens you are able to recover your files.
There are different solutions that can be used for this. The two leading options however that you should check out are mozy.com and carbonite.com. The price for these solutions is about $6/month.
Another option is to use a tool that allows you to automatically save your files to the ‘cloud’. This allows you to add a logical folder to your system that automatically saves your work to a server somewhere in the cloud. Dropbox.com is pretty well known for this. The main idea here is that as you work, instead of saving to your local C: drive, you save to a special folder. When you save your files to that special dropbox folder the files are immediately stored on a cloud server online. You can also sync your files with your other devices, including your mobile device. Either option you take meets the core requirement of having your data stored in a physically different location than your functional day to day computer or laptop.
Recovering your Files
A good Disaster Recovery plan is only as good as the ability to access and recover the files backed up. The backup location should be online to facilitate this. The software you use for backup or cloud storage should give you the ability to easily do a point and click recovery of your files. This will allow you to easily recover all your backed up files to your new computer. You should also be able to recover partial files and folders as needed. It may take some time to recover all your files based on the amount of files that were backup in the first place so partial recovery of just your critical files is important. In the case of using a cloud folder like dropbox you may not need to do a recovery to your new machine because all you need to do is connect the new computer to your cloud folder. But the end result should be that you can simply buy a new computer and have immediate access to your files for download or usage.
In summary, without an automated backup/recovery plan you are risking the continuation of your business if your computer crash, your laptop is lost, or if a real disaster happens. With so many things to worry about in running your business this is one of those no brainers that you can do to lighten your load. Don’t wait until you feel the pain to take steps toward a good Disaster Recovery Plan.
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Rohan Hall is the author of Stop Working, a book that teaches entrepreneurs how to use technology and partnerships to build a global businesses. He is the founder and CEO of Cool Mojito a social media company, and rSitez a leading provider of social networking software. He blogs at blog.coolmojito.com.