When Did You Last Check Your Backups?

Success BackupsAre you sure that your backup system is working effectively to protect your business from disaster?

How many people do you know who thought they had an effective backup system in place and when their system crashed they found that they had lost important information?

Sadly I know quite a few people who have lost a lot of information.

Recently a new client lost his whole system after plugging an external drive from his customer into his system. Thankfully we had already started backing his system and were able to fully restore his system (remomtely) within a couple hours with no loss of data.

There are six common reasons why backups fail.

1. Overly-complex backup solutions

One of the major challenges for IT professionals is making sure that the whole set of business applications they use can interface with each other. If your organisation is using a mix of non-standardised products from different providers there is a strong likelihood that the software integration put in place to make the packages “talk” to each other may not work. If the packages can’t talk to each other the backups may not be working or may be incomplete. Some figures suggest that only about 20% of backups fully succeed.

2. Partial backups lose important information

One of the common backup problems is that some organisations only back up part of their dataset. One published survey of businesses found that 31 percent don’t back up email, 21 percent don’t back up application data, and 17 percent don’t back up customer data (including invoices, amounts owing, contacts, etc.). Some large organisations only back up their network files and not their local files assuming that employees only use the network.

3. Remote locations have forgotten backups

Some organisations with multiple or regional offices have good infrastructure and data management in their head office (often where the IT department are based) but often overlook the backup and data management of remote offices or of field staff. Your IT staff may not be overseeing the data management processes at remote or regional sites as closely as they oversee your corporate office even though the data may be subject to the same compliance regulations.

4. Low frequency backups increases data loss risk

Most companies do a daily backup although there are others still doing weekly backups. If you have a lot of people working on a project there is a risk that if your backup frequency is too low, weeks of accumulated work could be lost only a few hours out from a deadline. Historic information can be archived and will not change very much over time but current project work is being updated in real time in response to demands on your business.

5. Memory device failures

Backup data and information are commonly stored using tape and disk storage devices. Tape and disk storage solutions rely on high quality media. However, if the media is not maintained, not stored properly and not replaced before the end of its effective life there is a strong risk that it will fail at a critical time.

6. Poor software backup processes

It is important to have strong IT management practices in place, for instance, to store information and data in the correct software version compatible with your current operating system. If a legacy system crashes there is a risk that the software environment cannot be recreated and the data is unrecoverable. Your backup processes need to be changed to match changes to the system infrastructure.

For more information about safe, secure and reliable backup software and systems contact us.

Learning Lessons About Firewalls And Backups

Virus Hacker

Virus protection and firewalls are a necessary part of network security. But you cannot rely on them as the only way to protect your business information from attack. You must make sure that you are also backing up your data. George learnt this lesson “the hard way”.

A few weeks ago, [George], [the Manager] of a [computer peripheral  supply] business contacted me urgently to ask for help with a virus infection in one of their workstations.

Learning the lessons about firewalls and virus protection

George told me that they had a strong firewall and virus protection in place and that they undertook regular manual backups. As I investigated I discovered that the virus had got through their firewall and already spread to three workstations.

I started the virus scanning and system updating. As this was occurring the virus scanner started quarantining windows system files because [FOR SOME REASON] users had full admin rights on their workstations [INSTEAD OF USER PERMISSIONS].

User permissions would have restricted the virus from infecting only the logged in user and NOT the whole PC. Then simply deleting and recreating user would have cleaned the virus.

When I had completed the scans and performed a reboot the three workstations completely crashed requiring major repairs to Windows. We finally finished the cleanup three days later. The simple virus clean job taking a couple of hours ended up as a scan, clean and repair of the operating system.

Learning the lessons about backups

A few weeks later George called me again. This time he asked me for help with his server which was continually crashing. I soon found that one of the previous virus-infected users had domain admin rights. After a quick remote login I found the virus had spread itself to the server and had infected the mail server. I recommended to George that he restore the server from his backups, as any attempt to clean the virus would corrupt Windows.

At this stage George realised that the manual backups he had been doing had not been working.

George’s business now had to undertake a major system recovery exercise to restore his operating system, data and mail server. It caused major disruptions and cost him a lot of time and money.

Lessons learnt-virus protection and backup

Too many organisations think that their virus protection will offer them security and protect them from attack. Firewalls and virus protection are necessary and important but they cannot guarantee protection from all viruses and other attacks. To fully protect your businesses information you must ensure that you not only install a firewall with virus protection but also have a fully operational backup system in place. George has learnt his lesson the hard way—we would do well to learn from him and not repeat his mistakes.

For more information about safe and secure backup software and systems contact us.