6 Questions You Should Be Asking About Your Backups

Years ago, there was a prevalent argument between people in IT departments and upper management about the importance of backing up critical systems and data. As technology has evolved―from tape drives, to onsite and redundant offsite storage, to cloud storage―stressing the importance of backups has been heard and handled. Many executives can now confidently state, “Yes, we have a backup,”

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As one of the forefront Managed Service Providers in the industry, we frequently run into situations where the answer to the question of “Do you have a backup” is yes, but the answer to “Is the data useable” is no.

The last time anyone wants to find out their backups were not viable is when it’s too late. There’s been a critical hit to the company either through a cybersecurity issue, malicious intent, or a catastrophic hardware failure, and now we can’t recover.

Here are the 6 questions you should frequently be asking about your backups:

1.      Where is our data stored?

Chances are, you’ve heard the name of the software or service your company is using. But where exactly is your data stored? Is the data stored locally? In the cloud? Knowing where your data is stored and how it would be affected in the event of a natural or man-made disaster could be the key to restoring your data or losing it forever.

2.      What are we backing up?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are many instances where the people making decisions about your backups aren’t aware of new areas that data is being stored. Not all companies use central repositories for their data. Many companies don’t even realize that users are storing information locally on their workstation that isn’t being backed up at all.

3.      What are we not backing up?

As important as it is to know what is being backed up, sometimes knowing what isn’t being backed up is equally important. What about that server everyone uses but doesn’t house data?  Some companies, to save space, can leave critical systems out of your backup if they are not housing data. But this would mean there would be downtime associated with the loss of that server. Knowing what the losses would be for productivity often outweigh any extra cost that would be associated with backing the system up.

4.      How often are our backups running?

Backup intervals are often adjusted to combat any potential productivity slowdowns that could occur as a backup system catalogs changes. But what works well for one department may not work well for all departments. For some companies, losing 4 hours’ worth of changes could be debilitating. It’s important to talk to your service provider about what can go for longer periods and what can’t. Consider the value of the time of your employees if they had to recreate 8 hours’ worth of work.

5.      When was the last time you verified our data?

Just because it’s backed up somewhere, doesn’t mean the data is useable. Companies that perform regular checks and balances of backed-up data are much more likely to be able to perform a restore in the event of a disaster. Pulling files from backups to make sure the data is not corrupted as well as spinning up servers in the cloud to make sure the services run correctly are integral parts of a well-rounded disaster response.

6.      If there was an incident, how long would it take us to get back up and running?

This is where IT professionals find that not all backups are created equally. When choosing a backup service and plan, it’s important to not focus on just the fiscal aspects of the transaction. How long could your company be without certain systems? Are you hosting an accounting platform that doubles as a customer management system? What if 100 of your employees couldn’t work for 3 days? 

Knowing you have backups and that they are being properly maintained and tested should be the priority for everyone with valuable data. According to phoenixNAP, 93% of companies that suffer a major disaster and don’t have a recovery plan close down within a year.

Backups can be confusing but managing them doesn’t have to be. Contact ERGOS today by filling out our contact form or by calling 713.621.9220 Option 1 to speak with a sales representative about how ERGOS can help your company.

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