Why you should have an automated backup procedure in place.
Chances are that you know how much your computers, servers and other equipment is worth… it shows up on your balance sheet and you probably even have an insurance policy that would help you replace all of it if something catastrophic were to happen. Can you say the same thing about the information that you are storing on those systems?
Unfortunately for many small businesses backing up their data is done on an ad-hoc basis, it’s not a priority and is usually a task that is assigned to someone who doesn’t even understand why it’s important or how to do it properly. But the stats show us how important backups are – 6% of all PC’s will experience data loss this year, 31% of all PC users have lost their files due to circumstances outside of their control and 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months.
Sometimes when we meet a client for the first time we will ask when they last verified their backup and are worried when we hear that they never have. This is concerning because your backup is only as good as your ability to restore that information when you need it most. At a minimum you should be restoring some test files once a year, but if you can make it a quarterly or semi annual routine that is even better. To do this, just have a couple of your staff identify some key files that they would be devastated to lose, restore them to an alternate location (don’t overwrite your active working files) and ensure that the files are accessible and accurate.
Backing up your information on a regular basis is easier now than ever thanks to secure, off-site backup services which will automatically collect your important information, encrypt and compress it and then send it over the internet to a secure off-site location. It is important to know where your data will be stored, how it is encrypted, what kind of reporting they provide, the cost structure, what kinds of information they can backup etc…
Once you are comfortable with the provider you will need to identify the data that you want to include in the backup. Off-site backups work great for critical information that changes regularly – like accounting data, quotes, client information, word, excel and other documents and whatever else your business would not be able to operate without. Most backup providers will provide a free trial period so give it a shot, backup some information and more importantly do a test restore or two and if you’re happy then you can continue with that service.
Finally, it is important to review your backup settings whenever there is a change in file structure on your systems, if you implement a new software package, new staff comes on board or if has been looked at in a while. You are protecting the most valuable part of your whole computer network so it is well worth your while.