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How to Backup Your Business Data


The Conclusion!

There is a lot of information here so we have made it easy, here is the conclusion, if you want to know why then read the whole article, but we know you are busy so there are headlines and explanations. You can backup with less or smaller drives depending on your circumstances but this is the usual situation. These prices included installation and configuration.

You need at least two back drives, the internal ESATA types are fastest and most reliable. If you have a backup and its just a few metres away from your computer then you don’t really have a backup, you just have a handy copy of your data because whatever happens to your computer will happen to the backup such as fire or flood.


Everyone who uses a computer to save or store files will at some time or another experience that heart stopping moment when they realise their files are lost.

Don’t let those files be lost forever. It’s plain and simple: if you use a computer, you need to backup your data. It’s not a question of whether you should, but rather how you should…

Every day individuals, businesses, and organisations lose their precious files due to a drive failure, inadvertent deletion, or other unwanted action or event. The result is a great deal of stress, anxiety, and in the case of businesses, lost revenue and it can be as serious as a lost business.

The computer hard drive that stores all your data has moving parts, and in time your hard drive will wear out and fail. It’s just a matter of when. You need to keep a copy of all your important data somewhere else.
Apart from hard drive failure, there are many other likely scenarios that may result in the loss of your valuable files like power failures and spikes, or system and file corruption due to viruses, worms, or other malicious attacks.
You need to know whether you back up DATA or YOUR COMPUTER. There’s a huge difference between those two. The data is just the information you have added such as e-mail’s, accounts, spread sheets and documents.
When your computer was made it was already installed with basic programs and set-up. Someone had to make it useful by installing more software and settings which creates the DATA. You then started using it and that’s when you created DATA. So we have your computer in three states, new, ready to use and being used.
So, if you created a dozen documents in Microsoft Word, then most automatic backup systems would “back up” those 12 documents. However, its important to note that these  backup services will NOT backup your Word software. If disaster strikes, you’ll need to install Word once again to be able to open those 12 files.
So if you only backup the DATA and have a disaster and start again with a new or repaired computer you wont have all the programs reinstalled or backed up so the system wont be back up and running again as it was. If your system was on a server then there are many more settings made to it.

Backup Location
Now for a word about redundancy. Let’s say tomorrow when you come into your office, you hit the button to turn on your computer and you’re greeted with disk failure. If that happens, you’ll be VERY happy that your external drive is sitting right next to your CPU with all your data backed up on it.
However, if you enter your office tomorrow and find your desk under water… you will be wishing your external hard drive wasn’t floating right next to your computer. At that point in time, you will realise that DVDs you made as redundant backups which are floating nearby may or may not be salvageable. A thief won’t leave it behind either. At a time like that, you’ll wish your data was safe and sound off site.
You need to store a copy of all your important files in a different location to where your computer is situated. At the very least, keep your copy in a different location in your home. If possible, keep your backup copy in an entirely different building.

So the answer is broadband off site online storage, whatever that is, isn’t it?  Some choose to backup their data onto remote servers using the services of off-site backup over the Internet. Be mindful however that your data is your responsibility. The moment you transfer that data to a third party to keep safe, new risks involving the potential compromise of that services’ availability and security arise. This form of backup is usually not a good choice because a backup made using this method is a single generation so you wont have every months payroll, just the last one and to make a copy of everything will take up a lot of space and time so Internet online automatic backup storage services will only back up the hard DATA on your computer.
Another consideration is the speed of your Internet connection. You may have been promised up to 20 Mb download speed but what about upload speed? That’s when you send data to the Internet. Its usually around 1/2 Mb because you usually send a few search words to get pages of information back.
The only way to make safe multi-generation backups is to take them off site.

The Ultimate Backup
There are circumstances when a backup might also be corrupted or inadvertently overwritten. Regularly creating a backup stored in a different location, although less convenient to administer, provides you with the greatest security against losing your data. If however you are unlikely to backup often to this third location, it’s not going to be worth your while as a backup needs to be updated frequently to be of any value.

What Should Be Backed Up?
In addition to your financial software, inventory control, customer databases, and other specialist business files, pictures, videos, music, Microsoft ® Office documents, spreadsheets, databases, Internet Favourites, e-mail’s etc., you’ll also want to keep a copy of all the programs you use so that if necessary they may be easily reinstalled at a later date. Its tricky for a you to find all your files, you may have all your documents in “My Documents” but accounts programs store them in their own folders and e-mail is usually in a hidden file several layers deep.
One especially important program to backup is the program you use for the backup procedure itself. You’ll also need to save the serial number for this program and others in a secure yet memorable location so you can restore your backup to the original location at a later date should you need to.

Bare-Metal, Image backup, Disk Imaging
To make an exact copy of your drive, including your Windows operating system, you must use ‘disk imaging’ software. Disk imaging copies the entire disk (the parts that are used) bit-by-bit. This results in a copy that will take up a lot of disk space, and take much longer to copy.

Disk imaging isn’t generally the best answer to backing up for a number of reasons.
Your Windows operating environment is constantly changing. Programs are installed, updated, uninstalled, and settings are changed. Many important security specific applications are also regularly and automatically updated. Anyone for example who users their computer to connect to the Internet should have in place Anti-Virus, Firewall, and Anti-Spyware programs that often update many times a week.
Another significant reason why creating a disk image of your drive is not an advisable routine backup procedure is that any and all misconfiguration of your system, dormant security threats, and the vast amount of junk data that is created and stored on your system, will also be copied. Much of this junk data cannot be deleted as it is generated behind the scenes in your system. This results in a decrease in performance and speed, and can also lead to system instability.
Lastly if you change your computer then it’s very possible that you won’t be able to restore from a disk image as that disk image contains all the drivers and settings for your previous computers hardware, which is probably completely different (e. g. different motherboard).
These issues, combined with the much longer, costlier (larger or more disks), and less convenient (more time consuming) disk imaging process inevitably means that for the average user, disk imaging is carried out far less frequently than the kind of backup that only copies your documents and information (usually under the ‘My Documents’ folder). Always remember that making regular backups to a different location is the key to an effective backup strategy.
People who use disk imaging often use file backup programs as well. For example, they take a snapshot of their hard disk using the disk imaging software, e. g. every week, month, or at ad-hoc times
How Often Should You Make a Backup of Your Files?
If you work on your documents each day, you need to backup at least once a day. The more impressive backup programs can also copy open and locked files so that a backup can be made even when you’re working on a document.
Many people benefit from backing up on a very regular basis throughout the day. Writers for example may be working on a draft and may wish to review an earlier version of that draft as they progress. This kind of backup is also possible depending on the software you use so that you can effectively rollback to an earlier version of your document.
The simple rule is how long would it take you to recover and how can it become a habit? If you could catch up on a weeks work in a couple of hours then backup once a week, If you lost a days work and could never catch up then its got to be every day.

Scheduling Backups
If you are using a manual system then get in the habit of doing it at the same time of day or day of the week. If it’s automated then get in to the habit of checking tat its worked, you could be backing up to a faulty disk.

It’s very easy to have your important files backed up without you having to remember to do so. The backup can be done automatically, every day, while you sleep. It can be done while you’re on holiday or out of the office. Computers are designed to help automate tasks, so let your computer and software automate your backups.

What Should You Backup Onto?
There are many different types of media that you may choose to backup onto, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. The first thing you’ll have to work out is what suits your particular circumstance.

It’s generally a good idea to choose media that allows you to backup all the data you wish to without having to ‘span’ the backup. For example, you may need many CDRs to backup all your information. The problem with this kind of backup is that it requires your intervention to replace the new media as each disk is required. A backup that can automatically run without your intervention will save you a great deal of time over the long run. An external USB hard drive for example can plug straight into a computer and provide an instant large capacity space for your backups.

If you’re a personal computer user the most immediate medium you’re probably going to consider is to backup to CDR/W or DVDR/W, however these mediums are also less stable over longer periods of time than you might realise. For pure convenience there’s nothing easier than making relatively small capacity backups to a USB memory stick that you can easily plug in, and then transfer to another location. If you’re a business with existing backup procedures, you may be using tape backup (which can be sensitive to heat, magnetism etc.), or you may be implementing a removable hard disk procedure.
Whatever you choose make sure your chosen media is easy to use, requires as little intervention as possible, and can easily be scheduled.

We favour the removable hard disk procedure. The advantage is speed. It fits internally and capacity. There are several types of disk in use however not all drives are suitable. As mentioned earlier a hard disk is a mechanical device with an arm moving over a platter. If this is subject to shock then the disk can be irreparably damaged. All disks have parking systems for safety but some park immediately they are powered off and others park when the disk has stopped spinning which can be several minutes giving plenty of opportunity for damage as the disk is removed. We only use the park first disks but they are more expensive, but what price safety?

Improving Backup Procedures
If you already have a backup routine it’s prudent to check it’s doing what you expect, and if necessary, to make adjustments to ensure it’s performing to your best advantage. Take care to read through and understand the documentation that comes with your backup program as there may be specific customisations that you may wish to make.

For example, you may want to configure your backup so that the program verifies that files are copied correctly, and that the backup makes safe copies by using temporary file names before renaming the file given the copy is successful.

Some backup programs assist you in the evaluation of effective backup procedures by allowing you to test any backup you do with a simulated run. This allows you to check the backup routine functions correctly without actually copying any files. In addition some packages keep you informed by sending e-mail information on all backups or just errors.

They say wisdom is learning from someone else’s experience. Here’s to your wisdom thanks to our experience.

The ins, outs, ups downs about Cloud computing and why I’m not a fan and why you might be.

I always worry when someone wants to push something and there are so many people wanting to sell the products. All “good” things that are being pushed and pushed by marvelous claims remind me of PPI, extended Warranties and other Scams. I am a victim of the Lehman brothers, Endowment Mortgages and a Pension, so I am sceptical.

After a lot of investigation here is the offical cmx business computing view on Cloud computing.

If you are either so poor that you can only afford monthly payments or are really rolling in cash, travel the world, don’t care if you lose information and get data corrupted and you have fantastic Internet then its a good thing.

There are currently two options in computing; either own your own equipment, look after your data or don’t. It’s exactly the same reasoning that you would use to either own your own car or just use taxi’s.

Let me explain but first you need to know what the “cloud” is
Theres a simple answer, “when you store your information or use programs over the Internet on someone else’s computer and you use the Internet to access it.”

Is it any good? Yes, No, maybe so – like everything else it depends. Lets put it in simple terms. You can buy your own car, service it, tax it, store it, clean it, insure it, fuel it, drive it and finally replace it or use a Taxi where you pay for usage. The car will cost you 0.25p a mile and a taxi around £2 a mile. So why don’t we all rush out and use a Taxi, tell you the truth Having now written this paragraph I don’t know the answer, however, I won’t be getting rid of my car anytime soon, I just won’t and I am not even going to do a cost comparison.

What does the cloud do for me?
We need to look at what the cloud is and I am going to split the answer in to two simple items. Information and programs.

Your information is your data, facts, figures, documents, diaries, emails, photos, in fact anything you put on the Internet. The programs can be a simple task list or mail on Google which are free, or a paid for product such as Microsoft office 365. This is also known in the jargon as SaaS or Software as a Service.

Its all stored stored elsewhere, it might be free for a small amount but if there is a lot of it then you will pay to keep it there. It’s like self storage, you have to go there to get to your property or look at it and the bigger the storage the more you pay.

Its the same with the cloud, its somewhere else so you need to have access to a computer and a connection over the internet. It does have an advantage though, wherever you go if there is an internet connection you can use your stuff, and you can let others use it too.

Is it a good thing?
As with everything there are good and bad sides and it’s all designed to confuse probably for your disadvantage.

There is always an ulterior motive. Google provides free applications with the hope that you will take on Chrome and next time you want a laptop then you will buy a Google Chrome computer to go with your Android phone. More turnover for them. Everyone else charges so much a month, just take that figure and multiply by 60. That’s what it will cost over five years, now find out how much to buy and you will see my point. With Office its £10.10 a month thats £606 over five years. The program costs £169 to buy a license for.

So cost wise, it may appear attractive but Microsoft know how often you change your software.

Why go in the cloud?
There are only three reasons, cost, security and accessibility.

Basically you are paying each month and not an up-front payment for five years.

You can never buy cheaper and get better and when was buying the cheapest the best reason anyway. Well, well, the cloud isn’t cheaper anyway. You will still need your own computer and over a five year period the software will cost you a fortune and the more you store the more you pay. The average business has 250 Gb of storage.

Item                             Cost over 1 year        Cost for five years
Own Office Licence                                                 £169.00
Office 365 (Cloud)            £121.10                          £606.00
25Gb storage (Cloud)       £513.00                       £2,565.00
250Gb Storage (Cloud)  £2,508.00                     £12,540.00

Privacy & security
In all honesty your own system is quite private and secure, nearly every broadband has an acceptable firewall, that provides some protection as does even the most basic anti-virus.

When you sign up to put your information on the internet you are handing over to someone more likely to be hacked and you don’t have a clue if they have better security than you, as for privacy then everything out there is available to anyone determined enough to want it. Recently a data storer advised every single user to change their password as a precaution, yes of course it was a precaution – not? What about the data left on the disks when old ones are thrown away?

It can all still become a victim of theft, fire vandalism etc. The other downside is that its a single generation copy. In other words if you have a corruption on your Sage accounts then it might be the only backup with the same problem.

As we have said before you can access and share your data with everyone no matter were you are. There are other ways of doing this, All business computers come with RDP, you just set this up and you can access your computer wherever you are, or if you need to spend money then use Logmein or GoToMyPC.

Anything else that can go wrong?
The down side is Internet speed, to use the cloud you need a reasonable Internet service. There are two speeds, upload and download, When you send a query to Google such as “who is who at cmx computers” You send about 30 characters what you get back is about 2,000 characters. Upload is slower than download. Upload is about 0.6Mb and download is between 1 and 60Mb. This means when you send your data there it takes 33 Seconds for a 10Mb picture but to receive it takes between 5 and .01 seconds.

Imagine you are backing up and retrieving 1Gb a day. That’s 28 minutes depending what time and how many home users you are sharing with.

If you have less than 4Mb of internet then forget it – thats actual speed, not what was sold to you.

So you need to consider the down side of privacy, cost, speed, accuracy and lastly a question that only you can answer. Do you want your information in the hands of someone else?

Anything good about the cloud
Now the upside; You will always have the latest software, you don’t have to worry about holding data or programs on your own machine. This can be the big decider for many users, you can use a smaller less capable device and you can use anything anywhere. You can use your phone, tablet, net-book, laptop to access your files and use your programs.Conclusion
At the end of the day the cloud is not ideal for everyone for many reasons, dealers like ourselves find it a revenue stealer but it also makes it hassle free, so if cmx was as big as Dell and I wanted to cut costs I would sell computers with Cloud built in and then pass any problems to someone else.

You pays your money and takes your choice. With the cloud you keep on paying and paying, but its a slow continual payout which will frighten you when you add it up.

My conclusion is that the assumption about the cloud being good asre only valid if privacy, security, cost, immediacy & control of ones IT are not important to you. 

Not in my world however, how about in yours?