By now we all know we have to be prepared for the unexpected
during a meeting power outages, tornadoes, an earthquake or even
terrorist attacks. But when was the last time you did a backup or
reviewed a disaster plan for your critical information?
There are several levels of disaster recovery plans, ranging
from volumes of procedures and redundant backup facilities to
carrying a CD full of critical files in your briefcase. Following
are various methods for backing up data.
MOVING TO THE WEB
Most of us own a backup program, like the standard
procedures Microsoft provides with the Windows operating system or
the use of a Zip drive. What’s new is that online backup services
have become available for as little as $10 per month; they are as
painless to use as they are affordable.
When you subscribe to an online service like AmeriVault (www.amerivault.com), Connected DataProtector (www.connected.com)
or Data-Insure (www.podbi.com), you have the assurance that, wherever
you are, you can safely and quickly back up or retrieve your data
over the Internet. Most of these services offer a 10- to 30-day
Since most of us have some “open pipe” to the Internet, either
by DSL, T1 or cable, using an online backup service is very simple.
First, download the software to the primary PC or server you want
to use for the backup monitor. The program will ask you to identify
each of the PCs and disk drives you want to back up. The contents
of these drives will be displayed; click on the directories and
files you want stored online.
To back up data flagged as private or not shared, such as your
accounting applications, grant limited access to the backup PC or
The first backup will take a while. The initial run of my
notebook took three hours while the storage software made a map of
my drive, folders and files referred to as a baseline backup.
Subsequent backups only copy files that have been changed and
added. My next run took about 10 minutes.
The beauty of these online backup systems is they can be
set to run at any time and as often as you want. Just make sure the
primary PC is left on and everyone has logged out of the files you
want to duplicate. The backup starts itself, searches the PCs for
files that have been changed or added, then compresses and
transmits them to the online server.
Many of the backup services carry a HIPAA certification
meaning they comply with the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act, which sets standards for the security of
medical records. The guidelines are strict, so you can be assured
your data is safe if you choose an HIPAA-certified service.
If you’re concerned about firewalls and access, the software
installed on the primary PC initiates the backup session meaning
the communication is outbound only so you shouldn’t have to
reconfigure your firewall to let the backup work.
If you have a problem with a file, you can selectively go to your
backup directory and restore it. If you lose an entire PC, you
could do a baseline restore followed by a restore of the most
recently changed files. It might take a while to download, but at
least you’ll have the data.
I recommend developing a backup map of each PC. In addition to
the normal directories, My Documents and Outlook PST files, include
the data files for any applications on that specific PC. If you are
in a Peer-to-Peer network and various PCs are the servers for
shared applications like QuickBooks or ACT!, make sure these
directories are flagged as well.