Six Steps to Creating Your Backup Plan
Many small business owners make regular and thorough backups of key business data quickly and easily. Yet, some wait until disaster dangerously strikes. According to a November 2008 study conducted by Rubicon Consulting, 90 percent of small- and medium businesses reported that data loss had disrupted their business, with 20 percent claiming severe business disruption lasting several weeks. Follow these six simple steps to safeguard your data:
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- Analyze your business needs. Try to imagine the worst possible disaster that could strike your company - for example, a hurricane destroys your office and your home office. Once you've finished contemplating these sobering thoughts, try to imagine how you would recover from such a devastating event. Determine the types of data your business will immediately need to get back on its feet, as well as the archival information that will be useful in the years to come. This is the information you will need to back up.
- Create a backup policy. Take a close look at your company's needs. Do you want to back up all of your computers, or only those machines with unique and critical data? How often should data be backed up? Where will the backup copies be stored? How will the data be secured? Who will handle the backup and restoration processes? How will the backup system be tested? Your backup policy should answer these questions in writing.
- Set backup priorities. Create and stick to a backup schedule that makes sense. Data-critical businesses may need hourly or even continuous backup, while other firms can survive with backup schedules ranging from daily to weekly.
- Choose an approach. Backup approaches can be divided into two major categories: internal and online. Internal backups allow the most hands-on control, but also demand the most attention since the approach requires businesses to store files on their own media and find a place where the data will be secure and accessible. Internal backups also require the acquisition of storage hardware and media. Online backups, on the other hand, automatically store critical information with an external service provider, eliminating most of the time and hassle of internal backups.
- Designate responsibility. Many data backup plans fail simply because no one knows who's in charge. To ensure that your backup plan is put into action and kept on schedule, designate an employee - or yourself - to be responsible. If the designee becomes ill, takes a vacation or leaves your company, make sure that the duties are immediately transferred to another trusted employee.
- Assess your backup strategy at least once a year. A regular evaluation is essential, since your storage needs and priorities will evolve over time. Storage technologies and best practices also change, requiring occasional fine-tuning.
Want to learn more? AT&T's award-winning Remote Vault provides affordable, secure online backup - for as little as $10 per month per PC.