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Planning a Consistent Backup Policy

A business of any size should always be backing up their data. It sounds like an obvious statement, but you’d be surprised at how many do not. Whether it caused by anything from error to natural disaster, loss of data can have severe consequences on a business – on the work flow and the finances. Your files need to be backed up regularly and, if possible, off-site.
There are things to consider when planning your backup policy that you might not immediately think of. For example, you may not be able to back up everything on your system due to time and cost restraints. If you’re a small business then this may not be an issue for you, but will certainly be a consideration for larger organizations with huge amounts of constantly updating data. You should identify what needs to be backed up. Things like installation and permanent operating system files don’t need daily updating; any documents that are created and modified do. It’s also important to remember to backup emails if you’re using a desktop client.
The best time to backup files is during the night to avoid any complications during the work day. It’s also advisable to seek out software that will compress and encrypt your files as this will save storage space and make the data secure. It’s advisable that you aren’t backing up anything to the same computer that it’s stored on. If the hard drive fails or there is a natural disaster then you aren’t going to be able to access anything on the computer, let alone your backups.
There are a number of different backup devices to consider, with the best one depending on how much you can afford to spend and the size of your data. If you don’t have that much to backup, you could look into using CD-ROMs or DVDs. This is a cheap and easy method, but prone to failure and cumbersome to do regularly. The better and more reliable solution is to use tapes, but this is a lot more expensive. If you can afford it, however, it’s definitely the way to go. And remember, whatever the method, if possible you should store all backups off site. It’s inadvisable to use online backup services. Although these can come in handy for home use, when dealing with private business data you really want to go with something a bit more secure.
You should consider setting up different stages of backups that take place at varying intervals. For instance, you could first create a backup when the system is initially set up. Then have incremental backups that only copy files that have changed since the last backup. Finally, on a semi-regular basis you could do a full backup of all files on the system.
All things considered, there’s no one best way to backup your data. A business’ policy for backups is ultimately going to depend on varying factors. Consider who is going to be responsible for handling the backups, which files will be included and how often you’re going to do it. A consistent backup policy is one that is going to save a lot of time, hassle and money in the long run.


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