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Disaster Recovery Planning

Disaster Recovery Planning
 Technology with Integrity

By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.


Everyone knows they should be backing up their computers. This will hopefully give you some useful tips on how and what to back up.  Disaster Recovery planning covers more than backing up.  Here are some things to think about:

  1. What could happen?  Consider the impacts on your business, and how likely different kinds of problems are.  Once you have a list of possible disasters, consider how you would deal with them, and the cost of various ways you could lessen the impact.  Weigh the cost against the likelihood of disaster. It is like buying insurance – how much and what kind is appropriate?
  1. What information do you need to run your business, and where is it stored? For example, do you have a list of software you own with license keys? Is it stored offsite, and / or backed up as part of your data?  Do you keep copies of the software you need to install your backup software and Operating system offsite? If you have a backup tape, but no software to read it, it will not be very useful.
  1. Who are the key people and what are their roles? If something happened to them, could someone else take over, and if so whom?  How much of your business is carried around in the heads of your staff?  Have a system in place for getting knowledge out of people’s heads, and into the shared knowledge of your company. Most company assets these days are knowledge and skills rather than inventory and equipment.

When backing up your computer data, be sure you can go back to a point in time. Sometimes you may not discover a problem until some time after the damage is done. What ever backup media you use, keep multiple copies. I suggest using a rotation scheme such as this:  Back up daily. Have a separate backup for each day of the week, and reuse/overwrite the backups the following week.  If you are using tapes, this would mean one tape labeled Monday, One Tuesday, etc.  Each Monday you reuse the Monday tape, erasing the previous week’s backup.

One day each week (for example each Friday) use a weekly tape/media instead of daily. On Fridays, you would have one backup which you keep for each Friday of the month. One of the Fridays, perhaps the first Friday of the month, use a tape/media which you rotate each month.  This gives you the ability to restore files from any time in the last week, and to restore back to the previous 4 weeks, or to the previous several months, if needed.

Many companies are using a combination of external hard drives, offsite storage, and tape backups. An external drive can make it very easy to recover a file that was accidentally deleted or overwritten without having to go through the sometimes complex process of restoring from tape.  Tapes are easy to take offsite, and provide a lot of storage at low cost.  Online backups store data offsite, but generally only keep a few generations of changed files, due to the limits of moving data over the internet, and cost of storage. 

Every company has different needs – you need to start by identifying what information is critical, and where it is kept.

Tim Torian has taught computer networking at the College of Sequoias and Cal Poly Extension. He has a BS in Computer Science, and has been consulting on computer networks for the past 20 Years. His industry certifications include: Cisco CCNA and CCNI, Microsoft MCSE, and Novell CNE.  He is president of Torian Group, Inc. which provides a full range of Technology Consulting services to local business, including computer services, networking, and custom software development. They can be reached at (559) 733-1940 or on the web at http://www.toriangroup.com


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