A backup strategy for your business is one of the most critical management decisions you make as it preserves and protects the information that is a part of your livelihood.
Backup solutions address the need to retain both the variety of files and data created during the course of business and the ability to recover your systems and applications in the event of a complete loss or failure. An area commonly neglected in backup scenarios is more virtual in nature.
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According to a Winter 2008/2009 survey released by Nielsen Online, 78% of consumers made purchases online in a preceding six month period, with 11 percent of that being technology spending. This includes software and services purchases online that do not provide a CD or DVD as backup and require serial number and registration codes (or at minimum a username and password) to function. I find this statistic even higher for small business technology purchasing habits.
If an event occurs that requires your business to recover using backup, there are some areas to consider for ensuring a smooth business continuity capability.
- Usernames and passwords
- Physical software media and associated serial numbers / license keys
- Software purchased and downloaded with no media and associated license data
- Third party vendors you utilize, and their backup capabilities
Some Steps to Take
- Use an electronic method for storing business critical user names and passwords to Websites (Post-It notes and Excel spreadsheets do not make the cut):
- For PC Users – RoboForm (RF) handles this task efficiently and securely in a business environment. My recommendation is to backup each PC that uses RF so as to capture the RF database in your backup stream.
- For Mac users – 1Password could be considered a sister to RoboForm, functioning in the same way and also easily backed up.
- Create a an offline “kit” – be it a binder or fire proof storage box – that stores all of your applications and operating systems CD/DVD installation media and the associated license keys. Store this in a safe off-site location.
- Purchased and downloaded software without physical media. Burn them to a CD or DVD, including the associated emails containing registration information. Stow them with the offline kit you are keeping off-site.
- Contact your third-party vendors (contact management (CRM), financial planning, data aggregation, et al) and ask for a document or letter that clearly defines:
- What they backup and how often
- How they back it up
- and how they recover from a drive or system failure
- If you are using only a physical backup procedure on your systems and servers in your office, i.e. tape backup or other physical drive method, introduce a secondary backup that offers some redundancy for your business
- An online backup provider, such as Carbonite or Mozy for Business
- An external hard drive that can also be taken off-site. My recommendation here is the DROBO, which offers big company technology for small business pricing.
Just like an emergency road kit for the trunk of your car or the first aid kit you assemble for your home and vacations, a little process planning will make recovering during crisis less stressful and more structured.