Whatever your company does, it creates data. That data is either your end product, the information you need to produce that product, or the information you need to provide your company’s services. If you lose it, you could lose your company.
There are many things that can immediately cause data loss: hardware failure, corrupted files, virus, malware, accidental deletions, saving over a file, or any other accidents. There is little you can do to prevent your computers from giving up the ghost, except to have replacement parts available. There is, however, much you can do to prevent—and even eliminate—data loss. Here are five tips for data backup.
1. Establish a File Organization Standard. Organization is key. Develop a standard way of sorting your files so that you and your users will always know where files belong. This is the first step in backing up your files because it will save time and hassle when you need to retrieve lost data and restore it to the proper location. Organizing your work product is always a good idea.
2. Determine Which Files Need to Be Preserved. Once you have organized your files, determine which ones are important. If you can’t do without them, they are important. If you might need them in the future, they are important. If they are the product you are selling, they are important. If you can re-create them but don’t want to, they are important. If they can’t be re-created, they are important.
3. Create a Local Backup System. All of your important files should be backed up locally. Ensure that your backup files are physically with you at your office. That allows for easy retrieval, and you maintain control of your files.
4. Create an Off-Site Backup System. Having a copy of your files in a different location than your office is essential. That provides two things: redundancy and catastrophe prevention. Having a second backup provides a level of redundancy in case the first backup fails. Your backup could fail because it didn’t run, didn’t run properly, or because of hardware failure, media filter, data degradation, or any number of reasons. It also provides catastrophic prevention. Say your office catches fire. Your files and your local backup files will all burn. There was no point to your backup files. Having an off-site backup procedure means that even though your office is destroyed, your files aren’t.
5. Automate Your Backup Procedures. Ideally your files will back up automatically, which reduces the issue of having to remember to run a backup. But you do need to check that the backups are running. Never assume that they are; know that they are. It’s that important.
It’s crucial to keep a few things in mind when creating your backup system. Something is better than nothing. Your plan might not be perfect or ideal, but having some sort of backup plan is better than nothing. Try to keep it simple. If you plan is too complicated, it will make it difficult to implement. Don’t use file-syncing services such as Dropbox as a backup. That’s not what they do. There are cloud-based backup services available, and they may be the right fit for you. Use hardware that is more substantial than a USB thumb drive or a CD/DVD.
Making a plan and implementing it takes time, money, resources, and effort. That’s why many of us don’t do it. But the effort you put into your backup plan is far less expensive than losing a client because you lost his or her data.
For more tips on data backup, read QuickAndDirtyTips.com’s How to Back Up Your Computer Data. And for tips on archiving projects, check out 4 Tips to Effectively Archive Your Construction Projects.