Backing up Data on a Small Network: Dos and Don’ts
Backing up your data is important, and handling data on a small network presents unique challenges. Rather than try to handle a small network in a way that isn’t custom tailored to your needs, it’s better to put together a customized protocol. When you’re planning out the data backup on your small network, keep the follows dos and don’ts in mind. This advice will help save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Do: Thoroughly Analyze your Network
Before you get started, you first need to analyze your network and decide exactly where the important data is. You should identify what data is important enough to be backed up, which computers create the most important data, and where this data is stored. This will allow you to quickly identify what areas need to be backed up regularly and what areas you can leave under the supervision of individual employees. Many small businesses try making a backup of everything on the network and either run out of space or wind up with a situation where they can't quickly identify the most important files that they need access to. Analyzing the network beforehand will avoid this problem.
Don't: Blindly Back Up Everything
The urge to make sure that every piece of data has a backup can be hard to resist, but when you're dealing with a small network you don't have the space to clutter things up with unnecessary files. Don't just assume that everything needs to be backed up. Fax cover sheets, obsolete data, and other documents that have neither an immediate nor a long term need can be saved by the employees they belong to. Your focus when making a backup for a small network is to keep only the information that is going to be necessary for your company moving forward. Electronic data might be able to be stored in larger quantities than paper, but you can still run out of space very quickly if you aren't careful.
Do: Take Extra Care with Critical Files
In addition to making sure that you prioritize your backups, you should identify the files that are going to be most important for you to store and access. These files should be given extra priority. Ideally, you should make a backup of this data on your main network and also have another external storage device, such as an external hard drive, that you can store the information on. Having this critical information on a drive that is disconnected fr om the main network will make sure that it is completely secure fr om network attacks and that it can still be retrieved even if something catastrophic happens to your network. Always be prepared, and be extra prepared when it comes to your essential files.
Don't: Discount Tape Backups
Tape backups may seem extremely outdated in an era that is dominated by digital material, but it represents a useful system that can be especially helpful for small networks. Tape backups have been around for more than 60 years and they have never stopped improving during that time. They are extremely secure and represent a cost effective way to store a large amount of data. Retrieval from tapes can be as fast as 280 mbps, which is speedier than many digital alternatives. While you should make sure to keep another digital backup of your crucial files, tape backups are a much overlooked but extremely useful way of storing a lot of data for a long period of time.
Do: Maintain a Backup Schedule
You should make sure that you have a scheduled time to back up your network and that you stick to that schedule no matter what. Exactly how often you go through this process will depend on the type of information you need protected. Important financial data or personal information about customers should be backed up extremely often, maybe even on a daily basis as you are closing the office. Less crucial data may not need as regular a schedule, but you should still be diligent about making those backups.
Don't: Ignore the Opportunity to Customize your Plans
It may be tempting to just borrow a system that has been proven helpful elsewhere, especially if you are familiar with that system and have first hand experience with its success. However, you should remember that different businesses have different needs. Even if you have a successful template laid out, you should always make sure to provide some customization to fit your company.
The advice above will help you customize your small network backup plans and make sure that you never lose any crucial data. Always be sure that you remain diligent about your backup plan, as it can make the difference between success and failure when something goes wrong.
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