Keeping an up-to-date backup is vital to a business. Loss of essential files disrupts business and costs time and money. Serious data loss is one of the most common reasons businesses fail.
However, backup is only half the story. If you suffer a data disaster and are unable to get the files back quickly, that means serious trouble. The longer it takes, the more revenue you stand to lose. When data loss happens, you should already know how to get it back without panicking. The cases range from simple file restoration to full disaster recovery.
The simple cases: small-scale loss
The most common situation is the loss or corruption of one or a few files. Recovering them should be a simple matter of copying them back, but you have to know how to get at them. The need to recover files is relatively rare in most organizations, so people may not remember what is necessary. Restoring files from a remote site may require a password. In the worst case, people find out too late that the backup was misconfigured and there are no files to recover.
A business should conduct periodic recovery tests to make sure employees know how to get back files when they need them. If there is a problem, that is the time to discover and correct it.
Handling serious file loss
If only data files are lost, restoring them is a straightforward if inconvenient process. If the loss is more widespread, copying files back may not be enough. Configuration files can be damaged or lost, and finding them is often difficult. If a disk drive fails, everything on it may be lost. To guard against these cases, a disaster recovery plan is necessary.
In these situations, restoration from a system image backup may be necessary. This requires special processes, and regular users will not be able to do it. A system administrator needs to perform the recovery. A full restoration may take hours, depending on the size of the volume and the bandwidth to the backup image.
Users and administrators should keep other options in mind. Sometimes running a disk repair utility will restore an apparently ruined volume to normal operation much faster.
An entire machine can fail to the point that it needs to be taken out for diagnostics and repairs. If something like a high-voltage surge occurs, it may not be possible to get it working again. The only alternative is to bring up another machine. A server which is essential to business operations needs to come back up quickly, so there should be a failover plan.
Not many businesses, especially smaller ones, can afford to keep idle machines on hand to replace ones that fail. However, failing over to a cloud-based virtual machine may be a more viable option. Keeping this capability in reserve carries a low cost and can allow a quick recovery.
Having a disaster recovery plan
The common factor in all of these scenarios is being prepared for disaster. We all hope that fires, floods, malware, or human error won't wipe out the data on our machines, but given enough time, serious data loss will happen. The only way to be safe is to have a plan and make sure it works. There should be extra copies of all important data offline, and there has to be a tested process for restoring it quickly when necessary. The alternative is risking the loss of critical records with no way to get them back.
Exercises and testing are essential. When files are lost, recovery needs to proceed smoothly and quickly. People need to know what to do. Get in touch with us for a backup and recovery assessment, so you can be confident about your ability to recover from data loss.