backup, Backup, BACKUP! Take 2

The Problem

One of my personal mantras is, backup, Backup, BACKUP! Commonly, many individuals, organizations, and businesses do not take take the appropriate measures to archive their critical information on a scheduled basis.

Today, I received a call from a someone who I have not heard from in many months. I remotely logged into their company’s computer systems to help one of the employees fix an issue with their QuickBooks accounting software. Immediately, I noticed that there was a backup status warning message indicating that the accounting database had not backed up since 4/9/11. Mind you, it is now February 2012. That is 10 months without backup.

My email to the business owner included this statement: “Since every aspect of your business revolves around the QuickBooks software and the data accumulated over the course of its use, if your computer systems fail now, your business will be crippled!”

Lessons To Be Learned / Take Aways
1. CHECK THE LOGS! Often, individuals, non-profit world administrators, academics, and small business owners, do not bother to check backup logs. Often, no one is assigned responsibility for ensuring whether or not the backups are successful. Individuals and organizations frequently rely on automatic backups alone. To make matters worse, no one checks to see if restores can be completed successfully from backup. Make and adhere to a schedule for checking log files. Specifically look for backup completion or failure notices. Periodically run a test, restoring individual files, folders, and even perform complete system restores of mission critical systems.

2. Understand how your business processes influence the functionality of your chosen technology and vice versa. In this case, Quickbooks Online Backup does not back up files that are currently in use. This means, for a successful backup to occur, the active files must be closed prior to running the backup procedure. Upon completion of the backup, the database can be reopened. This particular small business has its backups run on a nightly basis, seven days a week. Often, the employees leave the Quickbooks application and database files open at night, causing the backups to fail. To compound the problem, the company has an accountant overseas who uses the data files directly off of the production server. Due to the time difference, they are opening the Quickbooks files in the middle of the backup procedure. This means they interrupt the backup process.

3. Security Principle = Availability. If the backup and restoration process are not successful, the availability of information may be in jeopardy in the event of a failure.

Be sure to take into account all variable business processes that can influence your technology and how your technology can influence your business processes. Test your business processes and ensure that the technology is working to support these processes. Inversely, test the technology and ensure that your business processes leverage the chosen technology successfully. In this case, ensure your, backup, Backup, BACKUP!

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