Backups and Imaging

We have discussed the threat posed by Ransomware like Cryptowall. The best defense against Ransomware is great backups. Actually having great backups is a good defense against many ails such as hardware failure, user errors, and disasters of all sorts, both natural and accidental.

The first thought that most people have is that we should just back up everything, and better yet, let’s put that “in the cloud” for safekeeping. Unfortunately, that simply isn’t possible. Let’s take a look at why, and talk about about what we can back up.

Local vs “The Cloud”

There are several things to consider when deciding on a backup strategy. Hard Drive space and the time it takes to backup data is important. Most clients expect their backups to run after business hours and be completed before the next business day.

It can take several hours to upload one gigabyte of data to cloud storage and about ten minutes to copy that same data to a local drive. Local backups can also be restored quickly. Retrieving data from the cloud can be a long process. The time factor is the #1 reason that we have to rely on local backups as our first line of defense.

For most clients, our basic strategy has always been to store all data on the server instead of individual desktops and then back that server up locally every night. We also send the “critical” data offsite by uploading it to the cloud. This allow us to have the benefits of both types of backups. Things to remember.

  • Saving critical documents to the desktop instead of the server without letting us know means those files aren’t backed up.
  • After a staff change the new employee may not be aware of where they should be storing files.
  • Training of new employees is important

It’s important to have this conversation from time to time. We need to know what’s important to you and you need to know what’s possible with the equipment that you own. It is also important to recognize that storage needs increase from year to year. Budgeting funds to expand your capacity is important. It is very common to create piles and piles of data but you need somewhere to house all of it!

Disaster Strikes!

One weakness of local backups is when you have a real disaster. Only 6% of all companies that experience a major data loss survive after 2 years. That is a staggering statistic. Click on the Homeland Security Study link to read the study [Homeland Security Study]. There is really nothing more important than safeguarding your data. Local backups are great for protecting your data from a server malfunction or hard drive crash, but what happens when your business has a flood or fire? If the device housing your data doesn’t survive the disaster, then you are 100% reliant on the critical files in the cloud.

Recently, we were intrigued when we saw a new product that would withstand a fire and can be submerged for up to 10 days in fresh or salt water. We did some research and found that what they are saying is true. There are several independent verification that the devices really do survive fires and floods.

This really answers the question, what happens if there is a fire, a flood, or a tornado damages the roof and everything gets exposed to the elements. This goes a long way toward insuring that your data is safe no matter what happens.

Cloud Backups

Many businesses use Dropbox (or Google Drive) to store some files online. Technically, these sync services aren’t true backups, but they do provide an online copy in the event of a local issue. They also offer revisions to your files so we can usually restore the file to an earlier version. We also use a product called Intronis to manage our backups. Intronis allows us to specify either a local backup or cloud backup and we use it for both. Each night Intronis backs up all of our servers and some desktops and sends us a report of any failures. The single most important thing to say about cloud backups is that we know to backup the files that you believe are critical.

Images vs Data

There are two ways to backup data. The first method is to monitor a folder and to backup all of the files in that folder. That way we are only backing up the files that we need. Any unchanged files don’t have to be uploaded to the backup since the existing version of that file is already up to date. This works well for both cloud backups and local backups and it is the most efficient way to maximize storage and minimize the time needed to backup the data. If you use Microsoft Word, for instance, there is no need to backup the Word program, we can reinstall it if needed. The important part is the Word files that you have created.

All hard drives will fail eventually just like every car will break down sooner or later. You can minimize the risk by replacing machines every 3-5 years.

If your machine died today, how long would it take to restore? Would that be a hardship for you? Recently, we had a client click on a suspicious email and was immediately infected with the CryptoWall virus. In order to ensure sure there was no trace left, we were forced to reformat the hard drive, reinstall the operating system and each of the programs for the machine.

As stated earlier, time is crucial and getting your computer back up and running needs to be accomplished A.S.A.P.

We are excited to offer a new service that will allow us to completely restore a machine in as little as 1 hour. Every file and program can be quickly restored.

Please give us a call for more information.

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