The Top 4 Data Backup Mistakes We See

January 16th, 2015

Recently we started working with a new client on the Gulf Coast. When we first met this client, their office manager listed several technical problems that were plaguing the office. Of the problems listed, backups were not one of them. They had just spent $20,000 on a new server that would host their backups, and felt great about their data backup regiment.

However, during our assessment of their systems, we found that our client’s backups had not occurred in over 12 months. That costly server was running merrily, but it was entirely devoid of any kind of backup.

At first, our client was angry, and claimed that he was paying his software vendor to manage all of his backups. We found it odd that a vendor would neglect such a large part of their contract, so we examined it with our client. We found that their monthly payment was only for “software maintenance”. The contract stated that the software vendor would set up the initial backup, but they would neither monitor nor manage it.

In fact, our client’s contract specifically stated that their own IT staff would be responsible for monitoring and managing their own daily backups.

Now, even if their expensive backup solution had been running flawlessly, they were still at risk of losing all of their data at the hands of a hurricane or fire. Thankfully, our client was spared from Hurricane Katrina but if they had been affected our client would have lost everything. Today, on top of great local data backups, our client protects their valuable data by backing it up securely to the cloud.

This client was by no means the first business we have worked with that has a lot of room for improvement in the data backup department. We have noticed the same four recurring problems within numerous businesses.

The Four Biggest Backup Problems We See

  1. No backup. Sadly, some businesses don’t see the need for backups. We can educate until we’re blue in the face, but if Hurricane Katrina didn’t convince you (we’re on the Gulf Coast), then we’re not going to be able to convince you. The sad truth is that if you cannot recover critical files and data, you are unlikely to recover your business after a terrible storm.
  2. Non-functioning backup. This is the most common backup problem that we see. Many businesses have a backup solution in place, but it simply does not work as it should. The only way to be sure your backup is working is to test it by completing a “test restore” regularly. We recommend assessing the integrity of your backups at least quarterly.
  3. Local backup only. In this scenario, businesses are lulled into a false sense of security because they have a local backup. This backup solution will solve the most common cause of data loss— accidentally deleting a file or folder, but it is vulnerable to fires, floods, and other natural disasters. If you live on the Gulf Coast like we do, you are at a significant risk of experiencing a hurricane as well.
  4. File-based (or “file only”) backup. If you’re looking for file-based backups, your options are endless. And file-based backups do have their uses. Companies like Carbonite has dominated this space for quite some time, and they’ve protected countless files from being accidentally deleted forever. At AGJ Systems, we do offer a file-only backup for our clients who can afford to be “down” for several days. This is where the downside of a file-based backup becomes apparent. With file-only backup, your files are stored offsite (in the cloud), so that in the event of a local failure or natural disaster, your data can be downloaded to any PC with internet access. This works well with individual files, or specific folders, but it is highly inconvenient to download the entire contents of your server through the internet. With file-only backup, a full restore is not possible, and the server must be rebuilt before the files can be accessed again. Another downside is that many file-only backup solutions don’t work if you use a database. On the bright side, your data isn’t lost, but you could be down for several weeks waiting for a new server to be delivered and configured.

Good News

The good news is that we caught our client’s problems in time, and we set up a solid backup solution that will keep his business afloat no matter what disaster visits the Gulf Coast. Our client has experienced no data loss, and their data is now being managed actively and carefully. We set them up with our Backup and Disaster Recovery Service, so everyone can rest easily knowing that if disaster does strike, all data can be restored and ready to access in no time.

Learn more about how to prevent data disasters at your business.

We also wrote more about how valuable data backups are here.

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