3 Questions to Ask Your IT Consultant about Data Backup

IBM x3650 ServersThe world of business data backup is changing fast. Just a few years ago, the standard backup procedure involved regularly storing backup data on tapes. Leading firms sent those tapes to an off-site location so data could be retrieved even if the office building itself was destroyed. My, what a difference the cloud makes. Nowadays, it’s less expensive and more effective to store data backups on a remote server, typically in a separate state where regional disasters cannot cause harm. No physical storage devices are needed, as data can be transferred via the internet. (We use the word “internet” here for simplicity’s sake; the connection used to transfer data can take many different forms.) With the business backup landscape shifting so dramatically, it is wise for business leaders to ask the following questions about business continuity data solutions.

1. How long will it take to access our data backups?

Seen through a financial lens, the real question is: How long can you afford to be down? Some backup solutions require time to access data. Virtualization allows backup providers to offer failover protection, meaning you can almost immediately access lost data. Ask your IT consulting firm how quickly you’ll be able to access backup files.

2. How often do you test our backups?

An untested business continuity solution is a nasty surprise waiting to happen. Even the most sophisticated backup solution has its weaknesses. An exceptional IT consultant will setup regular tests to ensure that backup procedures will work when they are needed most.

3. Where is our backup data stored?

Locally stored data will be subject to the same disasters as your office, so you want at least one server located offsite (and ideally out of state). Also, inquire after security procedures and certifications for remote data storage facilities. We have all read the reports of car break-ins and unencrypted tapes or disks being stolen.

With recent innovations in business continuity, it’s possible to achieve reliable data backup without spending an arm and a leg. For instance, one service offers three local copies and one geo-redundant copy of your data for a single fee. They handle all labor and equipment costs, which yesterday’s SMB leaders had to arrange. The bottom line is that business continuity is more accessible and affordable than ever before – but SMB leaders should still take the time to vet the best solutions, as recommended by their IT consulting firm.

[ Photo by: DaveHabben, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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