March 31st is World Backup Day. It is a day that businesses should certainly mark on their calendars, but it might be better to refer to World Backup Day as World Restore Day. Thinking about it in terms of just backup, would be like celebrating when Charles Lindbergh took off from New York for the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. It was certainly something special, but it was the landing in Paris the next day that actually mattered. So, instead of focusing on how businesses should back up their data, maybe more attention should be given to the best way to recover lost data.
The right stuff (questions and answers)
There is an axiom that says that if you want the right answers, you have to ask the right questions. When businesses are putting together their backup plans, they often look at the problem from the wrong perspective. In fact, just calling it a backup plan already begins to influence the way you approach the issue of safeguarding your data. This thinking is more problem oriented as opposed to solution oriented, and it tends to fixate on worst-cases scenarios like catastrophic events such as floods and fires instead of the actual, day-to-day requirements that a good restoration plan fulfills.
Businesses should not back up their data merely for the sake of doing so. When data is lost, whether through accident, theft, or malicious intent, it can have very serious financial or legal consequences. The immediate priority becomes recovering the lost data and getting the businesses (or more likely just that one system that lost data) back up and running as quickly as possible. Simply put, a backup plan and a restoration plan are not the same thing. Having a real restoration plan in place is something worth celebrating, It’s like that landing in Paris.
Restoring data: A solution-oriented approach
By asking the right questions and using a solution-oriented approach, you can focus on exactly what the business needs. Once you understand the actual business needs, priorities become clear and the thought process looks more like this. “We don’t need to back up the data. We need to be able to restore it. Backing it up is just one necessary part. So, what do we need for a good restoration plan?”
- The data needs to be restored to the same state as when it was lost. Old data is of limited value.
- Ok, then backups have to be quite frequent.
- If backup operations are frequent, they need to be efficient. They need to be automatic and run in the background. Doing Backups manually or at night would not be practical. It would be costly and inefficient. Besides, companies practicing green IT shouldn’t have all their workstations and data servers running at night.
- Partial restores should also be possible. What if only one laptop is stolen, a single hard drive fails, or one office location suffers some minor damage?
- So, backed up data needs to be searchable in order to quickly restore the data to the right devices or locations.
- Also, if backups are occurring automatically and on a regular basis, that means the backup process is going to be done over a network. In this case, it has to be secure.
- Finally, an automated, network-based process allows for information to be conveniently stored off site. This is an essential element for safeguarding data anyway.
For World Restore Day, ask yourself if your business has a real restoration plan in place. There have probably been many instances when data has been lost and the first reaction was to say, “thank goodness we have a backup plan.” Unfortunately, little thought was given to sorting out what data belonged to whom, when the most recent backup was performed, or how to even find the right data that was lost. A backup plan is only half a plan. It would be as if Charles Lindbergh had created a flight plan that included when and where he wanted to take off without considering when and where he might want to land.
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