Data loss is a costly event. It may occur due to human error, such as overwriting or deleting files, or by hardware failure. Consider hard drive failure to be inevitable. It is not a question of “if” but “when” a hard disk drive will fail. In all likelihood, just like an automobile, it will happen at the worst possible time.
Bridgetown Hosting Co. can assist clients in installing backup software and setting up a backup ritual. We will help you figure out what should be backed up and how frequently. BridgeTown Hosting has private cloud servers, which can be used to store your backups. Our cloud also allows customers to have space to share files with others and automatically sync files with desktop computers and mobile devices.
Frequent, multiple backups are an insurance policy against data loss. How frequently to backup depends upon the user’s conditions. Determine an appropriate schedule for backing up computers and websites and maintain the backup schedule rigorously. Automatic backups are recommended.
Backing Up Computers
Desktop computers should have an automatic incremental backup schedule, which stores user data (photos, documents, etc.) on an external server or disk drive. Incremental backups take less time because only new information and that which has changed since the last backup are stored.
Additionally, periodic image backups should be performed. An image is a snapshot of an entire hard drive, including the operating system (e.g. Windows, Linux, etc.), application software, and user documents, photos, and so on. People often believe that their entire system is backed up, when in fact, only the user data is being backed up. For PCs, we recommend Acronis True Image™ software shown in the advertisement below. True Image supports full image backups and incremental backups, which quickly backup only the files that have changed since the last backup was performed. True Image makes it easy to browse backwards in time to recover an earlier version of a backed up file, unlike some other backup methods, which overwrite old versions.
The High Cost of Data Recovery
Rebuilding the entire software configuration on a PC takes many hours. In fact, it often takes several days to completely reconstruct a downed computer. First the operating system has to be installed, updated, and configured. Then all the users programs and device drivers have to be installed. The programs include such things as Microsoft Office™, web browsers, Photoshop™, email software, etc. This assumes that the owner still has all the original installation disks and license keys. More often than not, we find that this is not the case and the customer has to purchase replacement software. This is why image backups are needed. When an up to date image backup exists a computer can be restored in less than one hour.
Disk drives may suffer electromechanical failure or data errors. In the first case, electrical/electronic failure or moving parts malfunction. When this happens it is very difficult and expensive to recover lost information. The cost can easily be several thousand dollars. Data errors occur when a disk or a portion of the disk becomes unreadable. Various data recovery solutions exist. These vary in effectiveness and cost depending upon the nature of the failure. There is generally about a 50/50 chance of getting anything back. More often than not, if any data can be recovered we find that most data can be recovered. The cost for this is typically $200 to $500 dollars.
Risk Reduction Strategies
One way to reduce the amount of work required to recover from a catastrophic computer failure is to reduce the potential severity of a failure. How do you make a computer “less breakable”? Consider having two physical disk drives in a PC. One for data and one for the operating system (O.S.) and programs. This decreases the time required to back up and reduces the size of backups. It also provides the option of backing up on more than one schedule. Most often user data needs to be backed up more frequently than does the disk drive with the O.S. and programs. Schedule a consultation BridgeTown Hosting Co. for a detailed analysis of your business risks.
Backing Up Websites
Websites should be backed up regularly too. It is not sufficient to store the backups on the web server alone. Even though the web host may backup the server regularly you need to have copies of your backups redundantly stored in another location. If the website hosting company suffers a major failure your website may be offline for days or even weeks. In such a circumstance your site backups can be used to restore your website on another server. Bridgetown Hosting Company configures all of our websites to backup automatically on a regular schedule. The backups are then automatically copied to a second server. Bridgetown recommends that clients make a third copy of the backup to store locally as well.
How Do You Back Up a Website?
There are many approaches to backing up a website. For sites built with Drupal or WordPress, BridgeTown installs a software module or plug-in on the web server. This software allows us to configure a backup schedule to automatically backup all the files used by the website including uploaded files, pages, posts, and the database. The backups then are copied to a second location, such as one of our ownCloud servers.
HTML websites are usually backed up by copying everything in the directory that serves the site plus any additional databases or other data and software required by the site that reside outside of the home directory. This too should be automatic, periodic, and redundantly stored off the server.