Introduction

Several years ago, I implemented a disaster recovery plan (DR) for a company, which enabled them to do business as usual during a two-week-long power outage in their area. How was that possible? They purchased a cloud-based email and file storage solution (Microsoft 365) so that staff could access emails and files from any location with an internet connection. They also purchased an enterprise-level backup/disaster recovery solution, which created backups of their servers as virtual machines in the cloud. Those virtual machines could be activated and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection if needed (and appropriate access permissions).

The DR system provided a way for staff to access applications and files during a disaster (power outage at the office) that they usually would have accessed on the servers in the office. Those same applications and files were available in the cloud through their DR system, including their websites. It was a simple and easy transition from the DR system to their regular office servers when power was restored.

I have encountered other scenarios where implementing a backup and/or disaster recovery system saved the day during a disaster, even if that disaster was just a failed hard drive. Unfortunately, I had encountered situations where data was lost because no backup system was in place when disaster struck.

Be Prepared For a Disaster

What would have happened if your company experiences a power outage, failed hard drive, failed computer or server, etc.? Would you be able to recover if ransomware struck your system? These and more questions are especially pertinent now, with ransomware attacks on the rise. You must have a backup plan in place to protect your data from disasters, even if that disaster is merely someone accidentally deleting a folder on a server.

You can mitigate the effects of disasters, equipment failure, ransomware, accidental deletions, and more by simply implementing an effective backup or complete disaster recovery system. Assess your risk tolerance, needs, and budget to develop an effective disaster recovery solution for your company.

Backups and disaster recovery systems are not just for larger companies anymore. Small businesses and entrepreneurs need an appropriate DR plan.

The 3-2-1 Rule

The 3-2-1 rule states that you should have at least three copies of your files (including the original files) on at least two different media, and one copy should be offsite. Let me give you an example of what the 3-2-1 rule would look like.

  1. The original files are on the hard disk
  2. A copy of the same files are stored on an external hard drive or NAS unit
  3. A copy of the same files are stored in the cloud using a backup service such as (Acronis or iDrive)

You might use a modified version of the 3-2-1 rule depending on how critical your data is (or some of it). For example, you might have your files copied to a NAS unit, an external hard drive, and in the cloud. Not only that, you might include an image backup in your strategy.

You should be aware of two types of backups: 1) File backups, 2) Image backups.

A file backup is simply a copy of your files onto another medium or location. An image copy is a snapshot of the entire hard drive as one big blob of data. What is the difference between the two? The primary difference is realized if you need to restore a system. Let’s say that your hard drive crashed, and you have a file backup and an image backup. Here is how restoring the system would entail.

File Backups

  1. Replace the hard drive with ideally the same type of drive (e.g., 1TB, SATA III).
  2. Install the operating system (e.g., Windows)
  3. Install all of your programs
  4. Restore the files from the backup

Image Backups

  1. Replace the hard drive with ideally the same type of drive (e.g., 1 TB, SATA III)
  2. Apply the image to the new hard drive

Using an image backup makes restoring a complete system much easier and quicker. You can restore individual files from image backups depending on the software. File backups are great if you need to restore one or more files or an entire folder.

Backup/Disaster Recovery Systems

Backup and DR systems come in different flavors. You will need multiple media types (NAS, USB hard drives, tape, or SAN). It may also include DR appliances that store the backups and then copy them to cloud storage. The type of system you use is dependent on your needs, risk assessment, and business continuity requirements.

The first level of protection is to copy your files on a different media besides the source media, e.g., an external hard drive or NAS unit. The recovery process may take longer than using an image, but you still will be able to restore your system.

There are many backup software and systems from which to choose. I have personally used and would recommend Acronis True Image, iDrive, and perhaps Carbonite. There are other enterprise-level solutions as well (e.g., Datto).

Conclusion

Do not neglect to implement at least a basic backup system. This could save your business if you are a victim of ransomware or equipment failure. Use the 3-2-1 rule or a modified version to protect your data and keep your business running in case of a disaster.

Contact me now at 215-362-0967 to assess your disaster recovery or backup needs to prepare you for a disaster.