What is a Data Backups and why is It Necessary?
Data backups are as important as the data you store on your system; if that holds valuable information critical to the daily operation of your business, then making a backup of it is also critical. Think about the customer information, supplier details, debtors & creditors, etc. stored on your hard drive, and then imagine that one morning you can no longer find them.
Backups are for your peace of mind, and to save you a lot of time and money if anything terminal happens to your data files. Your data is fundamental to the operation of your business, and should be valued as an important asset.
Any backup is basically copying your data files to disk or some other storage device, to provide a working copy of your data ready to be restored if the original copy is lost, damaged, or corrupted. This can occur in a surprising number of ways – viruses, power failures, power spikes (these may not even be noticed!), system crashes, external events such as flood, fire, theft, or vandalism, or even a simple user error.
A Sample Data Backup Procedure
How often you make a data backup depends on how frequently the data changes, the value you place on the information, its importance to your business, and the cost of replacing or recreating it. If you consider that your data file is too important to lose, or that it would be costly to replace, then you must backup regularly.
If you open and update your data files every day, you should set aside a labeled disk/tape for each day of the week and make a backup every day. The following week, when you next enter the backup file name, you will be prompted to overwrite or append the previous weeks file. If you overwrite, you will then be in a weekly cycle. If you are confident that you will always have space on the media, you can append and have a two weekly cycle.
If you feel your information doesn’t alter that frequently, you can backup once a week and rotate disks on that basis – Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, back to Week 1 again.
The ultimate system is to keep buying new media, backing up daily and working on a very long (6 monthly or more) cycle. This is to ensure that there is always a clean backup if a fault goes unnoticed for any length of time, but it is really overkill for a small business.
Don’t Forget to Check That Your Data Backup Has Worked!
Don’t be misled into thinking that because you have run a backup that it has worked, there are numerous horror stories of PC users suddenly needing to restore and only then finding out that their backup procedure has been routinely failing. You should regularly test the backup media to confirm that the data has been successfully backing up.
Don’t put off learning how to recover files until disaster strikes. Practice to familiarize yourself with the process and make this a regular event, especially after any upgrades or changes.