There’s no particular peculiar virtue in religiously backing up business data. It’s just that the consequences of not doing so are potentially catastrophic.
Many businesses feel secure that their data are reasonably safe. They have good anti-virus software or a firewall that will stop viruses getting into their intranet.
But there are other ways to lose information. Fire, for example, or flood, earthquake or hurricane. To protect against these risks, it’s necessary to not only back up data but to store the data offsite.
Anti-virus software offers no protection against outright vandalism. It’s not unknown for disgruntled employees to carry out subtle or not-so-subtle sabotage. And data can be deleted accidentally. Files, folders and even whole databases can be mistakenly emptied out with the trash.
Theft is another problem. Laptops are easily stolen and with them can be lost many megabytes of precious information. Power surges pose another threat. Lightning bolts or just engineering problems can fry a whole network, unless it is surge-protected.
Finally, as a computer hard drive gets older, there is an increasing risk that one day it will simply crash.
Some of these risks may seem small. But the size of the risk needs to be balanced against the size of the consequences. Imagine, for example, that all a company’s tax records went missing. What level of sympathy would the tax authorities be likely to show? Even if a single mailing list went missing, what is the potential lost income as sales and marketing opportunities are not taken?
Of course, when important data are lost and they cannot be retrieved, they are often recreated. But recreating data may take longer than creating them in the first place. It’s one thing to note down information after a phone call, for example. It’s another to have to remember that phone call a fortnight later and backtrack over all the issues and details.
Some businesses back up on a daily basis. Others may back up weekly. It really depends on how much information an organization can afford to lose and how time they can afford to spend redoing work.
Backing up does not need to be laborious. Software can do it automatically, storing files in another part of your office Intranet. It’s possible to backup through the Internet if you have a broadband connection. Backups can run overnight. The cost of backing up this way is likely to be less than a firm will pay in insurance. And backup is a kind of insurance as data loss has been known to close down businesses.
Small businesses with only a few computers can back up onto a CD-ROM. A single CD-ROM can store 600 MB and can be added to incrementally. This only takes a few minutes.
The general rule is that most computer users do not start backing up until something bad happens. It may be only something minor. Perhaps someone has spent an afternoon working on a document and forgotten to save, and the power goes off unexpectedly. Then, amongst the general fuming and recriminations, the importance of backing up data becomes obvious.
Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/press_room/news.asp?ID=3840