Does Your I.T. Firm Know What to Back Up?

I’ve found many misconceptions about backups. I often hear people say, “Sure I do backups; I copy everything to Dropbox.” Repeat after me: “Dropbox is not a backup system” If you make one copy of an important file and put it into Dropbox, that’s all you have—one copy of your document.

A backup system will duplicate important files, and then make them generally inaccessible to you (so that you can’t accidentally modify or delete them). By making multiple dated copies of those backups, you will have the ability to go back six months or a year to find a previous version of a file. Dropbox and similar cloud storage systems don’t do any of that.

Additionally, having some backups on-site and some backups stored off-site is critical. Off-site backups are for major disaster recovery, such as fire and natural disasters.

Backing up your shared files, images, X-rays, patient records, and accounting software is a bare minimum. But have you considered backing up your email?

Way back before electronic communication, many small businesses kept copies of every letter going in and out of the organization. Now, with most companies using Outlook, old emails get deleted, get copied to an archive file, or get lost. Even if your server is backed up, the task of restoring one email becomes a huge ordeal.

The best solution is a dedicated email backup device or service.

For example, one of my clients needed access to emails sent five years ago, and since we were using the Mailstore email archiver, we were able to access them. By using certain search criteria, we found what he was looking for: 50 grand. He was in a dispute with a vendor over who had to pay for an installation, and the email proved that the vendor was responsible. The mail archiver saved my client $50,000.

So, what else needs to be backed up? Is your server’s Operating System being backed up too? If the server crashes, can it be restored to the last backup in a matter of minutes? All modern backup systems have this capability. And don’t forget to store a copy of the OS backup off-site.

How about configurations for the router, switches, and phone system? Make sure those are on your list too.

Lastly, some firms go so far as to back up every workstation in the company. If you have the storage space for this, then do it. Backing up every workstation brings you very close to zero downtime.