File Backup

Backing up copies of all data file (including email) is an essential part of running a business.

This page describes alternative methods of backup up files and gives links to other pages of advice on which files to backup and how often.

Why Backup data files?

Backups are required for three reasons:

  • Hardware / drive failure. Relatively common, especially in equipment over 3 years old. A second hard drive is a good backup against this threat.
  • Theft. For laptops a very real threat. For PCs in an office this is still a threat. A second hard drives offer not protection from theft.
  • Fire / major disaster. Thankfully a rare event.

The latter two risks require some form of offsite, online or fire and theft proof storage for the backup files.

Backup methods

For businesses with PC's and laptops there are three main types of backup route:

  1. 1. Use an external backup device on a regular basis. This may still be a tape drive but increasingly would be using read only CDs as these are now very cheap. At regular intervals these backups need placing either offsite or in a secure fireproof location. This solution works well for businesses with well organised staff prepared to spend time dealing with backup mediums. But if staff do not follow procedures the business risks losing important data
  2. 2. For businesses with a network, the network server can be used to semi-automate the backup process and take the responsibility away from the staff and into the hands of the IT support staff. Provided all emails and files are stored on the network, and laptops synchronised regularly this can be a very effective solution. For very large amounts of data or larger businesses this is usually the most effective backup solution. Data can be stored on both a second hard drive but also taken off-site or stored in a fire-proof safe.
  3. 3. Online Backups. This involves regular transfer of files from the business PC's and laptops to an online server. This can be setup to occur automatically at regular intervals, and is an excellent solution for smaller businesses with multiple PC's and laptops or staff located in various places. Cornish WebServices have been using Depositit for online data backup for several years and are happy to recommend this online data backup service to others.

Backup frequency

Ideally all files should be backed up at least daily, some more frequently but there is a cost implication in terms of time taken and storage space.

Backup schedules

It is usual to have several different backup schedules running, for example daily, monthly and annual backups. This means that a business will always have access to:

  • files from any of the last 30 days
  • a snapshot of files on (say) the 1st of the month for the last year
  • a snapshot of files on (say) the 1st day of the year since trading or working with electronic files

The above is just one example - some organisations can manage with less frequent backups and others may require some files backed up several times during a day.

Which files need backing up?

Anything important to the business. This includes emails and emails are often overlooked by many businesses as the email files are not usually stored under the "My Documents" folder. Outlook (or Outlook Express) hide the email files in obscure directories. These either need to be found and added to the backup list, or the default storage location of email files changed to somewhere more obvious.

There are other categories of file that may also get overlooked such as databases or files generated by software such as accounts packages which by default store the data under the Programs directory.

Some programs may also need backing up, especially any that were downloaded. These do not need such frequent backups, and may use a different backup solution.

Photographs or video files may need a different backup solution as newer digital cameras produce larger files.

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