Let's face it; a malfunctioning computer is not a rare occurrence these days. But what if the malfunction affects your valuable data? You need to be prepared for anything in order to ensure that your business continues to operate in the event of a catastrophic failure of your IT infrastructure.
Of course Data Backups are an essential part of any disaster recovery plan. It makes it possible for you to restore corrupt or otherwise lost data from an earlier copy. Data Backups are traditionally stored on tape cartridges and more recently even on removable hard disks and Network-Attached Storage (NAS) devices.
Data Backups provide the most basic form of recovery from a disaster, but in many cases they are not sufficient alone, and there are also some considerations to take into account, such as the frequency at which Data Backups are taken, and the amount of copies to retain before overwriting an older Backup. The latter is perhaps one of the most important considerations because many times, data may be corrupted but is not yet detected. If you only have one Backup, it is very likely that the Backup contains a copy of the corrupt data, rendering it rather useless. Keeping a few copies helps reduce the likeliness of such a problem occurring since you can always check for the same data on earlier Backups.
Data Backups should also be checked and verified every once in a while to ensure that the data is in fact recoverable from the Backups. Backup media wears out over time and you can very easily end up storing a corrupt backup.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity
In order to obtain a higher level of resiliency in case of a catastrophe, you need a more solid plan than just backing up your data. The first thing to consider is the storage of the backup media. If you store your backups in the same location as your IT infrastructure, they are both exposed to the same risks and you are likely to still lose everything in case of a fire, a flood, or a structural collapse. It is therefore essential to store your backups securely in an off-site location.
A proper Disaster Recovery plan should also contain all relevant documentation to enable you to rebuild your IT infrastructure from scratch. The key point here is business continuity no matter what happens to your IT infrastructure. However considering that time is money, this may also imply that your Disaster Recovery plan caters for minimal interruption of your business operations, because taking a long time to recover from a disaster could result in a financial loss big enough to bust your business.
For this reason, many businesses set-up a Disaster Recovery site which is essentially a replica of their business-critical IT infrastructure in another Data Centre. The idea behind this is to minimise the time required to get back up and running should the primary infrastructure suffer an unrecoverable failure.
Mark Bishop is the head of the Alert eBusiness Data Centre - www.alert.com.mt