How to Bullet-Proof Your Data

How to Bullet-Proof Your Data
By Brian Renter, President, Universal Information Systems
A recent study of companies experiencing a “major loss” of computer records discovered that 43 percent never reopened, 51 percent closed within two years of the loss, and a mere 6 percent survived over the long-term. For small and medium-sized businesses in particular, these statistics suggest the importance of creating a Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategy grounded in a robust Backup and Disaster Recovery solution.

Unlike enterprises, many smaller companies and organizations cannot afford optimal in-house strategies and solutions for their Business Continuity Planning. Consequently, these companies are at a high risk of being put out of business due to any major loss of data. Loss of data could mean emails lost, accounting data lost, patient or client files lost, company records lost, client legal records or orders lost, etc.

Smaller businesses generally lack the in-house IT resources to develop a successful Backup and Disaster Recovery plan for their data. Therefore, many SMB’s either neglect to implement any plan to secure their data or approach data backup and recovery in a sporadic, rudimentary fashion that fails to conform to BCP best practices.

Traditional Solution vs. Emerging Technology
In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift from tapes to disks as the primary form of backup. Recent advances in design and manufacturing have lowered the total cost of disk-based storage in terms of storage per bit. Falling prices, combined with the various performance advantages render disk increasingly attractive.

Tape, in contrast to disk, is physically delicate and easily compromised by environmental factors such as heat, humidity, and magnetic interference. Moreover, tape cartridges must be replaced frequently (every 6-12 months). Tape’s innate sensitivity contributes to high failure rates with analysts estimating that anywhere from 42 to 71 percent of tape restores fail.

Tape is seldom encrypted, compounding the destructive impact of tape theft. Disk offers not only lower cost encryption but also other advantages including longer life, easier management, and faster recovery speeds.

Some features to look for in a Backup and Disaster Recovery solution
Near Real-Time Backups: Make sure your backup uses “Incremental Forever” methodology to capture all changes to the initial image in certain time increments (15 minutes is preferable). The Incremental Forever technology not only backs up recent datasets but also allows end users to reconstruct the state of their data as it stood at the end of various 15-minute restoration points. This level of forensic and auditable data recovery may satisfy various regulatory requirements (such as HIPAA and GLBA) for data retention and data record reconstruction, and also serves stakeholders such as supply chain planners, warehouse analysts, auditors, and legal counsel.

On-site Virtual Server: If any of your servers fail, the server virtualization technology embedded in a recommended Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution should allow servers and applications to be restored and rebooted within hours, rather than days.

Intuitive and Flexible Restoration: A good backup system should allow for quick and flexible restores. Make sure it allows for recovery of files, folders, partitions, mailboxes/messages, and databases/tables using a quick and easy-to-use process.

Secure Remote Storage: Have your data stored off-site in addition to the local device at your office. Make sure the data is transferred to the remote site using a 256-bit encrypted tunnel and that it is stored in an encrypted format for which you have the only key.

24×7 Monitoring of the Solution: You don’t have the time or expertise to make sure everything is working properly with the backup solution. Make sure it is monitored at all times to ensure that your data is available when you need it.

The safety and security of your data must be made a top priority within your operation. The very existence of your business or organization may depend on it.

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