Tony Walker Managing Director of Liverpool IT Support Company, ICU Group Shares His Top Tips on How to Back Up Data

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Tony Walker head of Liverpool IT consultants, The ICU Group shares his top ten tips and offers advice on how to back up and secure valuable data.

back up data in case of hardware failure

Back up data in case of hardware failure

Data is vital to any business and protecting it is essential. Imagine if your business had a fire, flood, break in or hardware failure and your data wasn’t backed up

Tony started Liverpool IT consultants, ICU Group back in 1998.

The Liverpool IT Support Company have been providing both small and large companies with IT consultancy, support, hardware and data backup solutions for almost fifteen years.

From their main office Liverpool IT consultants, ICU Group provides IT support services and consultancy to many types of businesses throughout the North West.

The ICU Group provides IT support services in Lancashire and IT services for Cheshire companies too.

“Data is vital to any business and protecting it is essential. Imagine if your business had a fire, flood, break in or hardware failure and your data wasn’t backed up” warns Tony.

Statistics from National Archives & Records Administration in Washington state:

93% of companies that lost their data for ten days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.

50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.

“I have had business owners call us who are virtually in tears because of a loss of data disaster” explained the head of the Liverpool based IT consultants.

He added “It is often too late if the machines are beyond repair; we have on occasion managed to recover some data from hard disks. If the business had a disaster recovery plan in place and a suitable back up procedure then they could be back up running within days”.

Tony offers the following tips and advice on backing up data:

1. Identify what data needs to be backed up and eliminate any duplicate data wherever possible.

Periodically review the backup selections to ensure that all the data required is being backed up.

There can often be additional applications and data on computers in locations where the current backup system does not span, meaning not all the data is being backed up.

2. Ensure the backup media has enough space to accommodate all the required data

There should be enough space for a 'Full' backup, not a 'Differential' backup.

Try to avoid taking 'Differential' backups as it is far safer to have a 'Full' backup each time.

Never perform backups to the same drives on which the data is located and always aim to store all of the backup drives or tapes off site.

3. Ensure the correct backup software is installed to accommodate backup needs.

If securing a SQL server or an Exchange server, an 'agent' maybe required for the backup software and these can be purchased separately.

“Do you need to secure 'open' files? These are files in use at the point when the backup is taken. If so, you may need to purchase a separate 'agent' in order for your backup software to secure the 'open' files” advises the Warrington IT support services provider.

4. Implement a rotational backup system, whereby multiple backup tapes or drives are in use

For example: Tape 1 for Monday, Tape 2 for Tuesday, Tape 3 for Wednesday, Tape 4 for Thursday and Tape 5 for Friday.

Label the tapes with the day of the week to make selection of the correct media obvious.

Note: The above example provides one weeks' worth of data storage with five different restore points.

“If you realise on Friday that a file was accidentally deleted on Tuesday, you can restore the file from Monday's backup” advises Mr. Walker.

He added “If you didn’t notice the deleted file until the following week, you would not be able to restore it from your backup. You could introduce more rotation to provide an extended period of time from which you can restore data”.

Tony recommends “By introducing three more tapes, labelled as Friday 2, Friday 3, Friday 4 and re-labelling Tape 5 (see above) to Friday 1, you then have four weeks' worth of data backup retention to revert back to. Extend this practice further and retain Friday 4 and replace it with a new tape each time, this allows you to restore back as far as the oldest retained drive”.

5. Implement a log of which media has been used and maintain this log religiously so that another person can take over where you left off, if necessary the log also serves as a reference for when restoring files is required.

6. Ensure the backup software performs a verification of the backup job each time.

Periodically perform a test restore of a random batch of files to make sure the backup has been successful and don't rely solely on the backup software stating it has successfully secured the data.

7. Check the results of each backup to make sure it completed successfully and rectify any errors immediately.

8. For Microsoft Windows Servers ensure a 'System State' backup is taken regularly as this contains all of the configuration information for the server and is essential if the server has to be rebuilt from scratch.

9. If not already implemented, consider turning on 'Volume Shadow Copies' on a Microsoft Windows Server as this provides instant restore capabilities for the duration configured on the Volume Shadow Copy service.

10. Data backup systems covering critical data should be reviewed by a qualified IT Consultant and ideally monitored on an on-going basis.

In addition to on-site backup systems many organisations are now opting to outsource their backup needs to Cloud based systems.

This removes the headache of having to rotate the backup drives each day, store them off site, monitor the backups and having to upgrade the backup media as your backup storage needs increase.

Data retention periods can often be extended more easily too.

“ICU Group offer a Cloud based backup system, with access to our secure servers housed in secure data centres in Manchester and Bolton. Please contact us if you require assistance with your backup systems, we will be only too pleased to help” ends Tony.

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Tony Walker
ICU Group
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