If you are thinking about starting a business, information systems will probably factor into your plans at sometime. The business will require some sort of application software and the requisite information created from the application – whether the solution is simply an Excel spreadsheet or something more advanced and automated like Quickbooks Pro or an enterprise resource management system. Subjects like disaster recovery, data protection, cyber security, web filtering, etc., are subjects entrepreneurs should be thinking about. This is the first article in a series of articles that will introduce the new,and experienced, business owner to information technology intricacies that should be included in your business plans. The first issue introduced will be the idea of disaster recovery and data backup.
As a business owner, you must define what constitutes a disaster, how long it should take to restore operations, and what systems are critical to the function of the business. How long can the business operate in a degraded mode, or not at all, if none of the systems are available. How about email? If your email is not available at all, how long can you survive? What about your phone system? Your accounting systems? Your website?
What constitutes as a disaster for a business? Here are some events to think about:
Upgrading software, servers or workstations that fails or corrupts data.
Migrating data to centralized storage that fails or corrupts data.
Fire, flood, hurricane, and other acts of God.
Virus breakout – both medical or cyber.
Hazardous material event, chemical spill, gas leak, etc.
Communication systems failure.
For disaster recovery, there are two components to recovering data – the backup and the most important, the restore of data. These are two very important distinctions. As an example, I had been doing some side work for a small health facility that had been hit by lightning and I was recovering the network connectivity. After I got the network operational, I left for the evening. The next day, the president of the company was working on the accounting system and accidentally hit the key that did the year end close on the books and it was only October.
The conversation went something like this:
“Can you please come in and restore the accounting data? I accidentally closed our books for the year.”
“Do you have a backup?”
“Yes, we back up every night.”
“Perfect, I can be there in about an hour.”
When I get to the facility, I asked where I can find the machine that did the backups and where the tapes were located. The software was BackupExec, I knew that software well. I bring up the management screen and look when the last time the backup ran. Last night, perfect. Now, what was backed up? Uh-oh – two directories, one was a WordPerfect directory and the other was a user’s home directory. I looked at other tapes – same thing. No other network data was being backed up, or at least nothing that was important to the accounting system.
I had to go to the president of the company and deliver the bad news. I am sorry but your backups are worthless. The backup machine did not have enough access rights to successfully backup the data that needed to be saved. The last thing I did, before I left, was setup the backup to login with an account that had sufficient rights to see all the data that needed to be backed up. I came back the next day to verify the back-up ran successfully and the data was properly backed up. I saw the data was being backed up properly. After I got the backups working, the company hired someone full-time to take care of the network and computers.
Here was the problem for this little disaster, to backup all the data successfully, the backup process had to be run as a admin-type user that can read all of the files and folders. There are actually three take-aways from this event:
1.Watch and verify backups are being done, finishing without errors and backing up everything that has been identified as important.
2.Identify someone to be responsible to watch and verify backups are being performed properly. That individual may not have to fix the backup, but the person will have the responsibility to make sure the backup gets fixed. cloud disaster recovery