Your IT back up plan is an essential part of your business. No matter what industry you serve, the majority of your data (and work) is within your IT network. If you don't have a well thought out back up plan, you're leaving yourself open to losing precious information that you can't recover. Your IT needs in today's world are extensive. Many smaller businesses focus primarily on threats of a data breach and the continuity of the current system and software. Back up plans sometimes fall to the wayside or are not well planned in advance. You may back up at regular intervals, but have you thought about how often is optimal for your type of business? Have you considered how long your system will be down if you need to backup to a previous point? Have you thought about the amount of data that might be lost in a back up process? And do you have a plan to retrieve data?
[QUIZ YOURSELF] How great is your company's IT?
Three Steps for an Optimal IT Back Up Plan
The key word to a cohesive back up plan is "plan". You can approach your IT back up plan in the same way you'd approach any other forward movement of you business - by going over your specific needs and pinpointing how to service them. While there can be many considerations to the mechanisms of your IT back up plan, here are three necessary steps for a back up plan that doesn't put you at a loss if you need to use it.
Consider Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO)
When developing your back up plan, the first thing you have to consider is your RTO and your RPO. Your back up plan should be designed so that your needs for meeting these objectives are met. As a quick overview, your RTO is the time it takes for you to recover from a disaster - so how long can your system be down? Your RPO is the point in time you need to recover from, so if you set your back up to once a day, is that sufficient for the amount of data and work you'll be inputting into your system between backups?
When you consider these two objectives, you'll want to weigh them against the needs of the business. Are many clients inputting information into your database independently? Is all data going through in network employees? In some cases, a once a day back up is sufficient. In many cases, you'll want multiple back ups per day to retain the highest possible accuracy without losing data or needing to re-complete assignments.
Once you have a back up system in place, you can't just set it and forget it. While the system itself will automatically back up your data on set intervals, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't monitor the process to make sure it's running smoothly. The last thing your business needs is to have a disaster and THEN find out that the back up system hadn't been running properly for a number of days or even months.
[Free Assessment] How does your company's IT stack up against industry standards?
Set a schedule to monitor the back up process thoroughly. This way, if an issue is detected, it can be repaired immediately.
Monitoring your system is one step of the process. You'll also want to fully test your IT back up plan on a periodical basis. You can't be certain how well your recovery plan will work without using it. Running a full test will give you all of the information you need to make certain that plan you have in place is adequate for your business needs. It's also essential to test over time because your data needs may change from year to year and you may need to adjust the type of back up plan you have in place.
While simply having a back up plan is great, it's not enough to ensure 100% peace of mind. If you're not sure where to begin, consult an IT professional who can help you assess your unique company needs and find the right approach for your business.