Shell & Desktop Enhancements
|Data Backup and Protection|
Protection of your data is very important for your home and business. If you have your data backed up on the only one computer and its hard disk suddenly fails or becomes defective because of a power surge, then you may consider your business data destroyed. You can also have its paper copies but will it be saved in case of disasters like fire or severe flooding? The answer is obviously no – you'll irretrievably lose all the data you needed to continue your business.
To keep data protection adequate you should make a data backup system considering those steps:
- Regularly archive necessary data;
- Reliable media should be used for data backups;
- Updated data backups should be kept in an off-site secure location.
First rule of business data protection is to back up all the data that is critically important for your business. You can always reinstall any program if there is a need for it, but you can't recover your business correspondence or the details of transactions if these files were lost or critically damaged. In the rest of the article you'll find out how to establish an effective data backup system, which will protect any important data from disasters.
1) Backing Up Necessary Business Data
Backing up your business data is not just a part of housekeeping, but also an important thing to ensure surviving your business in unforeseen situations. Two steps are needed for successful data backup:
Identify the data that must be archived;
Archive it on a regular basis;
What information should be saved in a data backup? There is no need to save software programs, as it can be reinstalled any time later in case of corruption or losing it.
Nevertheless, if the current document was created or modified by you, then it most likely must be archived. In most cases there are many such files as they include everything from mail through accounting files.
Backing up your data may be simplified if it will be kept on a single drive of your computer. For example, if you have spreadsheets, word-processing documents, email, photos and accounting files, you can install programs like Simply Accounting, Paintshop Pro and Microsoft Office (with Outlook altogether) on the D:, E:, F:, ... drive. That will allow you to archive all the files created or modified by this programs in one place which then can be easily backed up. Though you don't have to back up software, there is nothing wrong in doing that.
As soon as the necessary data will be selected for archiving, just install and use any backup software program that will allow you to backup your critical data on the regular basis.
It is mostly recommended to backup data every night. Such an option is available in many backup software programs, which allow scheduling and automatic data archiving. Pay more attention to those applications that can offer better data security and saving disk space by zipping and encrypting files.
It is also recommended to keep your data backup files separately from the original files – for instance, on another hard drive or even another computer in your computer network. If you have only a stand-alone computer, then you should save your files at least in a separate directory and also increase the schedule of creating physical backups.
Second thing you should do in order to protect your data is to backup your files on the regular basis. But before doing that you must understand the differences of various backup systems and the limitations of media that are being used for backup.
2) Creating Physical Backups of Data
Physical data backup is the only way to prevent losing your files in case of computer failure or damage. Even if just a cup of coffee will be accidentally spilled coffee onto the laptop, there is a big possibility of losing all your data (if you keep it only in this place). That's why it is necessary to create physical backups of business data once per week or even more frequently if your business is big enough to generate significant amounts of new and important data every day. Files may be backed up to physical media by several methods, but it is important to notice that some of them are definitely more reliable than others.
Which media backup is more reliable to use?
CD-Rom as data backup
Copying onto a CD is a popular method of backing up important data. Blank CDs are cheap and it is easy to write information on it. But it is also the worst method of making data backup among listed here. Almost everybody at least faced a situation when CD becomes unreadable and just "doesn't work". It can be explained by a limited shelf life of the CD. Thus such method cannot be recommended to small business. And even if you still prefer backing up your data onto the CD, it is better to create multiple copies every time you back up.
Tape as data backup
Tape backup is like ten thousand times more reliable than CD-Rom, but it is also way too expensive. Good tape drives may cost more than $1000, and its associated media (individual tapes) cost around $40 each. But even if such expensive equipment is affordable in your case, it is still not the best way of backing up your data.
External hard drive as data backup
Using external hard drive to keep a copy of important data is the most recommended method of data backup. Such hard drives are much cheaper than tape drive systems (its price is around a few hundred dollars). It is also easy to use such media – in most cases you just need to plug it into your computer's USB port. Though even hard drive may fail, such situations occur much rarer than in case of any other backup media like CDs.
Online backup service as data backup
Nowadays many companies offer online backup services, but that method cannot be unambiguously recommended. It can be explained by several reasons – for example, in case of unexpected bandwidth problems your data backup may take several hours. The reliability of the online backup service depends on the reputation of the company that offers such service, which is hard to check up as lately such companies come and go faster than the common cold. Besides, if your data is important and even sensitive, why it should be put on the Internet?
3) Backing Up Your Data Off-Site
The only reason for you to keep your business data on-site is only if you have fire-proof and indestructible safes. If you meticulously back up your data on external hard drive or tape drive according to previously set schedule but keep it in one place with original files, your efforts will be senseless in case of any disaster that will struck your place. The copies of the backups must be stored off-site to provide true security for your business data.
Many businesses prefer to keep its data backed up in special security boxes in banks. (For further incentive the fee for it is tax-deductible). Those who have a small business frequently keep data backup copies at the homes of family members or friends. Basically it is not important where exactly the copies of your business data should be kept, the main idea is that the place must be off-site, secure and allow regular access to it.
Prevent the risk of losing important data. The best way to do this is to properly protect your files and documents. With backing up your data c and regularly you may be sure that your will handle any contingencies or disasters that can happen with your business.