Computer Backups - Are You Prepared?

Backing up files on LANs and engineering workstations has become an integrated process in today's business environment. However, backing up data files on stand-alone PCs is commonly overlooked.

The chances of a hard drive crash or a virus affecting your vital PC records is far greater than the occurrence of a catastrophic event. Vital PC data files should be backed up and stored off site regularly. This would improve recovery time and effort, and decrease the possibility of an extended business interruption or service reduction. Vital PC records could include phone lists, financial records, project proposals, cost models, and many types of other important data. If no longer accessible, those records could interrupt daily business functions and increase the cost, time, and effort of full business recovery.

Two backups should be maintained for all vital PC data files. One should be stored on-site (in a secure and fire protected area) for operational recovery, and one should be stored off-site for disaster recovery.

Listed below are recommendations for off-site storage facilities:

• The location should be far enough away so that it's not impacted by the disaster.
• Physical controls, such as security, authorized access, environmental (heat, humidity, water, frost, etc.), and fire protection should be in place.
• The facility should be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Once the above controls have been met / established, there should be documented backup procedures implemented that are known and understood by the entire team. Documented backup procedures should include the following:
• All backup files should be labeled to identify their content.
• Methods for transporting the media should be documented.
• A list of those authorized to retrieve off-site backups should be compiled.
• Timetables should be created for the creation and rotation of backup files.

Be sure that you follow these steps to ensure that you are prepared. The time you take today could help avoid disaster tomorrow.