You finally took that big step and made sure your data is backed up and secure. It’s time to relax knowing that monkey is off your back. Think again. While data backup is a critical step, it gives you little to no information as to how long it will take to recover your data. Does the backed up data include critical software and system data which will allow for a quick rebuild of failed hardware? What is the process in place for testing the reliability of the backed up data? How do I know all my data will be restored in perfect condition regardless of how long it takes? In short, data backup is only the process of copying files. There are a myriad of ways it can be done which you would likely have no interest in learning the technical details involved. What is necessary in learning is how your backup process allows for a fast recovery and a methodology of testing the data backups on a regular basis. Waiting until disaster strikes is not a good time to find out if everything works as you had assumed.
A good place to start in understanding backup is the difference between data backup and disaster recovery. Disaster recovery is the process which allows you to recover the functionality of your critical data, software programs, devices and business operations in the event of a natural or human induced disaster. Disasters can consist of a basic server crash or extend to a far more catastrophic event such as a fire. The reality however is that the vast majority of disasters occur through human error, such as accidentally deleting files, theft, hardware faults or virus and malicious attacks aimed to corrupt your network.
Most businesses are completely unprepared for these disasters as they assumed or hoped a major disaster would not happen to them. Even should an outage occur, they believed a backup was in place which would allow for an immediate and full recovery of their environment. This is typically when I witness the “four stages” of a business owner. These stages consist of shock, disbelief, anger and bitter resignation. The stages begin upon hearing the time needed to restore all data, determine if the data restores cleanly and rebuild any and all systems.
Think of the analogy of a house that has burned down. It is possible you had replicas of everything in your house in a storage facility. But where do you put all of it now that the house is gone. So step one is to build a new house. You now have the joy of getting all your stuff out of the storage facility and into the new house with the hopes that you did have copies of everything and nothing is damaged in the move. After whatever time this takes, you still have to organize and rearrange all of your belongings into working order. This should give you a good feel for why it is important to invest in disaster recovery. Disaster recovery focuses on how to best and most efficiently back up the entire house and restore it in quick fashion. Don't be left standing outside in a bathrobe looking at a smoldering foundation thinking, “now what?”.
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