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Technical insight: Business survival can depend on backup

By Chris Larkins

Failing to implement appropriate backup and storage solutions is a sure-fire recipe for disaster – a business without its data is as good as dead. As any small to medium enterprise (SME) strives to achieve a level of operation that will sustain the business over the long term, so too should that business be looking at the installation of quality backup and storage devices.

SMEs often do not consider backup and storage systems until it is too late – their computers are stolen, their hard disks crash or some one simply makes a mistake and wipes out critical information. And often, even if they do implement a backup solution, they find out too late that it is not suited to the business or it has not been used correctly.

Installing a proper backup and storage solution is vital, while sizing it correctly according to company needs is important too.

More often than not, a large amount of data resides on users’ laptops or desktop computers. This is not ideal, since that data could very easily be lost or become corrupted.

SMEs need to get their business data to a central location such as a file server that either resides on the premises or is located ‘off-site’. The business should also implement policies that determine how and where data is stored.

However, storing data in a central repository is not enough – and neither is backing it up.

Far too many companies back up their data regularly, but fail to ensure that their backups are actually working. And they only discover this when disaster strikes.

Any organisation with a backup system must ensure that it has procedures and policies in place that will test the backup systems regularly, thereby ensuring that backups are not wasted or useless when it comes time to recover information in the event of a system failure.

However, with hundreds of storage and backup products available, all providing the latest data recovery and availability technology, choosing the right system for one’s needs can be confusing.

Once it has been decided what systems are critical to the company’s longevity, the SME should be given a customised service level agreement (SLA) to ensure 100% after-sales service and support. Such an agreement is vital, especially considering the spate of PC theft by technology renewal agents when servicing clients’ storage needs. If information important to a business is stored on a dedicated file server, it is safeguarded from theft as well as from loss through system failure. SMEs need to reconsider seriously where they spend their money and not only ensure that their data is backed up – but know that it is recoverable at the same time.

Because cost is a major concern to any SME, and there are often many items vying for a larger portion of the IT budget, it’s tempting to delay the investment in a backup and storage system. But that’s false economy. There is little that is more important to a business than its data – and it needs to be protected at all costs.

Chris Larkins is solutions consultant for storage at independent IT solutions provider First Technology. He can be contacted on tel. +27 11 790 4400. Visit their web site at http://www.firsttech.co.za

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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