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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Computer Data Backup Necessities: Don't Forget to Test!

Most small business owners don’t pay attention to computer data backups. Although everyone knows they are important, most don’t do them religiously.

Neglecting Computer Backups Can Be Dangerous

When you don’t back up, you risk a very dangerous situation. You should ideally have a local computer service company to depend on for selecting and maintaining computer data backups. But if you are like most small business owners, you can’t afford to put a full-time PC support person on payroll.

The following tips can help with computer data backups and are based on 15 years of working with small businesses to protect computer data files.

Test Your Computer Data Backup Files Regularly and Monitor Log Files

Computer data backups are not effective unless they are very automated. Jobs have to be consistently launched the right way. This automation must be combined with continued proactive vigilance over the computer data backup system to make sure it keeps working the right way.

Most small businesses don’t watch their computer data backup systems until something fails. People generally set automated computer data backup systems and then leave them to fend for themselves. You need to keep testing or risk losing critical information.

Test Once, Test Again

Any time you install a new computer data backup system, you have to make sure everything works right. Don’t just assume that the system will keep working over time. You need to restore folders and files from backup media to prove that everything is working.

If your automated computer data backup system is configured regularly in order to have a verify run attached to each backup job, testing a sample restore function should be enough to guarantee functionality. If you don’t want to risk it, you may want to do a restore job once weekly.

Moving Parts and Open Design are Hazardous

If your computer data backup system is so reliable and high-functioning, why should you take so many precautions? A tape drive or any other type of system usually has moving parts, unlike other components of a server or PC. Because of these moving parts, it will be more likely to experience mechanical failure. Because a backup device is open and not sealed like a hard drive, dust buildup can also cause a problem.

Sample Restore Jobs and the Cleaning of Tape Heads

When you test a tape as part of a routine sample restore job, you should take the opportunity to clean the heads of the computer data backup system as well. Restore up to 300 MB of data to a scratch directory and then run a head-cleaning tape. This process should only take 15-30 minutes. You should always restore data to another server folder path so you don’t disturb the use of shared folders.

Build a Computer System Backup and Restore Procedure Checklist

The most important issue during a crisis is how quickly you can put data back onto your system without hurting it. As you are creating a computer data backup system, keep track of your test procedures through an organized checklist. This checklist can also help train other employees and help prevent emergency panic. A hard copy of this checklist should be kept offsite as well with any backup media.

Keep an Eye on the Log Files of Your System

Before running test restore jobs, carefully look at computer data backup system files on a daily basis. After initial installation, learn exactly how log files look under ideal circumstances so if anything goes wrong, you can more quickly figure out how they went awry.

Operating system suites have become much more evolved and now allow you to monitor backup system log files remotely and more regularly. They are most typically regular text (.txt) files. Also, there are a lot of third-party tools and utilities, such as those included with Microsoft Small Business Server and BackOffice Server that will automatically send emails or fax backup system logs at scheduled times.

Automatically, Remotely Monitor Log Files

Computer consultants often set up systems to have small business clients’ log files emailed to them daily so they can watch systems carefully. You don’t have to be a professional consultant to monitor computer data backup systems. You can do it on-site or remotely usually automatically. You can also set up an e-mail alias so your computer data backup system log file is sent to you or the second-in-command and also a computer consultant just to stay abreast of the situation.

The Main Idea

Your small business probably is greatly dependent upon its computer data backup systems to keep data safe and keep everything running smoothly. The above computer data backup system tips can help you be more proactive about your business.

Blogged By: Joshua Feinberg