The word “mantra” (originally from Hinduism and Buddhism) typically means a phrase or sound repeated to aid in concentration when meditating. I found that word to be a nice touch when it came to writing a blog on one of the most boring yet critical segments of technology strategies – backing up your data. The key is in the repetition. Match that up with “locationlocationlocation” and you get two key tenets of a solid backup strategy.

Like my mother, most people are in denial about backing up their data (she’s in denial about most things, not just data backup – but at least she knows what “data” is). If you are leading a company, you probably figure the “tech people” will surely be taking care of data backup, right?

It’s estimated that over 75% of companies running tape backup solutions have found failures. Need more incentive? According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately.

Personally, you never really give it much thought until your hard drive crashes or phone dies. Let’s just have some fun and keep it simple (fun with data backup solutions…not possible, you say?) – because knowing your data is protected both in business as well as your personal life, will always help you sleep better.  It’s a true form of insurance that costs you minimally in the form of budget to maintain, yet can be costly beyond belief, if you lose the game.

Repetition…

Like a mantra, recite it until it’s second nature – “protect your data, protect your data, protect your data” – think of it as securing your future. Think of it as securing your past.  Think of it as protecting both your business as well as your family. How would you feel if your corporate database was hacked or crashed and could not be recovered? Forget the costs to try and recover from that type of situation – how would your business handle it?  Would it recover?  Now jump to your personal world. What if you lost every photo and video of your kids since they were born? You feelin’ it yet?

LocationLocationLocation

At a minimum, your data should be stored at three different locations – and all three should not be “local” (even in the same city or state). Two can be within 100 miles of each other, but not all three. Ideally the third should be on a different continent (no I don’t have 3 years of canned food and bottled water in my basement).

Automate

The beauty of backing up data is that nearly all of it can be automated. But remember that you can’t and shouldn’t trust that it’s working 100% of the time.

And Repeat…and Test It!

Lastly, it’s important to double and triple check everything. Schedule data restores in your calendar and make sure your backup solution(s) is not only covering all your critical data (files, databases, e-mails, etc.) – but that also includes phones, desktop application data, remote users / devices, etc.

EVERY HARD DRIVE WILL FAIL SOONER OR LATER (the caps help make my point?). Your computer will one day crash. Your phone will one day stop working. There ain’t many guarantees in life, but that is one of them – just give it enough time and it will happen. Now take other “outside” risks such as hacking, data corruption, theft, fire, clueless staff members, your 15-year-old kid, and yourself (oops, forgot I haven’t sync’d my Blackberry or iPhone up in months) – and this
ain’t no joke.

There are many data back-up services out there ranging from wide-scale, enterprise systems to excellent solutions for less than five bucks per month. This is not the place to be frugal, but also not the place to go nuts spending a small fortune either. Contact an IT specialist that you trust and make sure all your bases are covered.

Then relax and meditate, knowing your data is safe and protected. Feel free to change your mantra at that point as well.

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