So You Thought You Were Safe With Backups? Part 1 by Lee Rychel
Happy New Year! With the new economy sorting itself out, it should be a great one as business is on the rise for many retailers. For others, this will be a year to remember with great sadness for a very long time. Those retailers will be spending hundreds of hours re-entering data and arguing with IT staff over who’s to blame, as they flush countless company dollars down the drain trying to get their business back on track.
You see, these retailers will fall victim to the “what, you have no backup copy???” elephant in the room. If you are running a local server – whether a small 2 user work group or a 100+ user network – it is imperative that you are getting daily backups of your data. Backups that can be removed from the premises each and every day in order to ensure your business can continue to function, no matter what calamity comes calling. Below, I’ve outlined some real world examples our support teams have worked on in recent years. Each of these situations was entirely preventable.
The store is on fire. Workers have inadvertently set some concealed roofing material aflame during repairs. After a period of working on the fire to prevent further spread, the staff is advised to leave the building. They take with them the box of backup tapes for their PROFITsystems software, leaving the server behind. The fire consumes the building, and only bed springs and hardware from their case goods remain. The server is melted to the size of a pack of cigarettes. It takes only a day to install new PSI software on their new server. The backup tapes are then loaded in to retrieve the company data – only to show they have not been updated for years. Apparently the program contained a fault, and while it was showing “Backup Complete” each morning, nothing was being written to the tapes.
In many instances this is the sad truth. Diligent staff is swapping tapes only to find that either the tapes have aged and are no longer readable, or the backup software itself is no longer functioning. There is only one way to make sure your backups are being done correctly, and that’s having a qualified person initiate a “restore” from those tapes, up to the point where they are assured there is truly current data available on the media. CAUTION: You need to make sure they do not run the restore program and overwrite data during this exercise, or you will end up with an older copy of your data on your server.
For many years I was a traveling consultant for both my own business and PROFITsystems, and during these years I would run that simple backup test for clients – just to see what they had backed up. After several years of doing this, I quit offering the test because I found that 3 out of 5 retailers did not have a good backup system. Many had nothing on their tapes period, and if they did, it was older and essentially useless data. It is pivotal that you make sure you are getting good backups on your removable media, and that you insist on a proper demonstration that backups are indeed being done locally.
Remember, backing up your local network is the responsibility of the retailer, or their network agent. If you are in our POD (PROFIT on-demand) cloud servers, we are doing the backups for you.
In the next installment, we will discuss other issues in backing up data that can create equally devastating results. Backup and confirm.