SMBs' Common Mistakes with Backup

Paul Mah
Slide Show

Top 10 Pitfalls of Traditional Data Backup Methods

Common pitfalls that can severely affect a company's processes and bottom line.

Many small and mid-sized businesses do not maintain dedicated IT personnel or have a scattering of professionals whose job is to make everything work. The downside of having so little technical expertise on hand means that many businesses invariably commit the same mistakes. Since it has been some time since I last wrote about disaster recovery and maintaining proper data backups, I decided to revisit the issue.


For a fresh perspective on this topic, I approached Jennifer Walzer, chief executive officer and founder of Backup My Info!, a company that specializes in the secure, off-site backup of data. Walzer was candid in sharing her vast experience on this matter, and sent back a long list of problem areas via e-mail.


The most common mistakes she and her organization see:


  • Not having any real DR plan at all.
  • Not having data protected off-site.
  • Not testing restores/DR plan on an on-going scheduled basis.
  • Not reviewing backup configurations to ensure all critical data is being protected.
  • Focusing solely on the backup of data while neglecting the restore.
  • Not having any type of policy on data retention.
  • Not having somebody who "owns" or is accountable for backing up and restoring data.


I'll address the topic of having an off-site backup in another blog. For today, I want to take a closer look at two specific areas pertaining to backup and disaster recovery.


Planning for Disaster Recovery


SMBs need to know that disaster recovery doesn't magically happen; ensuring that the appropriate data is properly backed up requires a lot of planning. In fact, I would go as far as to say that merely backing up a few key databases doesn't constitute a plan at all, and we all know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


In addition, just because the appropriate data is backed up doesn't necessarily mean that businesses have the capabilities in place to restore the systems back to operational status. For example, while the data might be safely stored in the databases, the supporting system to generate and print out the invoice must be in place before customers can be billed.


Walzer sums it up best when she observed that:


"This is where so many firms get caught. While it is relatively easy to back up' data - knowing how to restore it takes an entirely different expertise."


Putting Someone in Charge


With disaster recovery, Walzer suggests that someone needs to be held accountable if restores don't work or takes too long. Who is in charge? The CIO, CTO, IT director or IT manager? This pertains to SMBs who might not be large enough to have a CIO or IT manager as well as larger or mid-sized businesses will benefit from this point.


The idea here is not to bump responsibility around, but to ensure that someone with sufficient managerial clout is established way in advance with the responsibility of backup and disaster recovery plans. After all, pointing fingers at the hapless system administrator should the backup prove unusable isn't going to magically make it appear.


So how does your company fare in the checklist above?

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