What would you do if you lost everything?
That’s the question posed in a video on the World Backup Day site, which takes place on March 31st. Now is a good time to answer that question by setting up or refining your own disaster recovery plan.
Even if you don’t have a plan in place, you probably know that backing up is important. Maybe you’ve even considered doing something about it but haven’t gotten around to it. After all, we all have files that are important to us for business or sentimental reasons.
You might be tempted to dismiss an event like World Backup Day as a marketing gimmick designed to elicit an emotional response, but it touches on the real psychology behind procrastination. Everyone knows that electronic devices eventually fail, but in a survey we conducted in 2012, our findings showed that data loss is the most prevalent hardware issue that IT professionals work with.
Dr. Joseph Ferrari of the American Psychological Association shared an interesting insight during an interview about the role of technology in this phenomenon:
…in 2006, a reporter phoned me and asked what I thought of the snooze button, which is more than 50 years old. The snooze button is one of the first technologies designed to give us more time, yet we have not gained anything. We still delay.
Technology puts a lot of incredible tools at our fingertips, but it also makes it easy to ignore what’s in front of us, or what the near future could hold.
When it comes to backing up, you can keep hitting the snooze button… but if you don’t wake up, you may be in for some hard consequences.
Even if you have heard stories about data loss, it may not sink in until it becomes a firsthand experience. Some hard drives will give you a warning when failure is imminent or make odd sounds, but sometimes they will just stop entirely. Recovering data from an inoperable hard drive is possible, but is time-consuming and very costly.
Hard drive failure rates can be difficult to gauge, since two drives from the same manufacturer can fail years apart from each other, but there’s always a risk that things will just stop working. And even when your hard drive doesn’t fail, there’s a real possibility that your system could be suddenly hit with a virus, affected by user error, or something worse.
The bottom line is that there are a number of risks inherent in owning devices that contain important information, and the only way you can guard against disaster is to take charge, come up with a game plan, and implement it. In the end, you’re responsible for your own data.
Fortunately, the hardware and software that comprise the backbone of a data recovery plan are more plentiful and affordable than ever. The trick is defining what your needs are and selecting the right tools for the job.
Some users are content with backing up only important files, but getting things up and running again could take a long time if software needs to be reinstalled—not to mention the costs for downtime. If hours of downtime are not acceptable, consider using software that will back up your entire operating system along with your files. These options can get you back in business within minutes, even if you’re restoring from bare metal.
After you’ve decided what you want to back up, there’s the question of where the data will go. Backing up locally to an external hard drive is faster than uploading the same amount of data to a cloud service. Cloud backups are offsite and immune to local events, but usually have ongoing service fees and rely on an internet connection, which may not be available during a catastrophe. Both methods have their own set of benefits and drawbacks, but each has their place in a sound disaster recovery plan.
Breaking it Down
Remember, the key to any disaster recovery plan is redundancy. Anything you can’t live without should be copied to at least one other place, period.
Before you start digging into the software, breathe deeply and remember that researching this sort of thing can be confusing and frustrating. To ensure that you’re not getting caught up on extraneous details, focus on answering these three questions:
- Does it support your operating system?
- Does it provide the features you need?
- Does the price tag fit your budget?
In addition to these questions, look at your recovery plan as a three-tiered system:
- Good: Copying important files to an external drive and uploading them to the cloud.
- Better: Performing full system backups and storing locally.
- Best: Performing full system backups, storing locally and uploading to the cloud.
If you don’t have a plan in place, now is the time. Stop hitting the snooze button and make sure you have a path to recovery.
Photo credit: murdelta via Flickr.