Successful Backup Strategies

While visiting one of my clients today and walking by their computer room, I noticed that their backup tapes were neatly stacked on the desk next to their server. When taking a closer look I also noticed that they had two tape sizes, the larger to backup their main legacy system and the smaller size to backup their windows server. Interestingly enough, there were only four tapes in each stack and the ones labeled Thursday were missing from each stack. Since today is Friday, I knew exactly what they were doing wrong. I walked into the CEO’s office and here is the conversation that took place:

Me: who is in charge of the backup system?
CEO: That’s Bob.

Me: I noticed only four tapes in the computer room and I was wondering were the missing Thursday tape was?
CEO: (proud and boasting): You see Chad, we have implemented this great backup procedure several years ago. When Bob came in this morning, he brought back with him the nightly backup tapes from Wednesday, that he took home with him last night. He then put last night’s server tape backups in his brief case so he can take them off site. This way we always guarantee that we have one off site set of tapes. (At this point the CEO had a big smile on his face probably waiting for me to acknowledge their great backup procedure.)

Me: May I ask you several questions?
CEO: Sure, go a head.

Me: How important is your backup system?
CEO: If disaster strikes, we would be dead in the water without them with possible terrible consequences to our business.

Me: Does Bob ever take a lunch break?
CEO: Sure every day.

Me: Does he always carry his brief case with him when he leaves for lunch?
CEO: Rarely.

Me: So I guess if a major disaster took place when Bob is out to lunch, such as; fire, water or earthquake, wouldn’t you agree that you would be dead in the water when he returns?
CEO: (speechless, no sound)

Me: Or if a major disaster strikes your business when Bob is at home and for some reason the tapes he has at home are damaged. Wouldn’t you agree this terrible scenario is the same?
CEO: (starting to make a sound)

Me: Would you like to know what Bob needs to change?
CEO: Absolutely.

Me: Keep all tapes off site and have Bob bring with him the tapes with the appropriate label for the day. When he gets into the office, have him put these tapes in the server and pull out the previous night server backup tapes and place them in his brief case to take home with him. This way you still have three days backup tapes off site if disaster strikes.
CEO: THANK YOU! We shall implement immediately.

Final and additional notes:

  1. There are remote backup services available that will enable you to backup your system to a remote server eliminating the need for tapes.
  2. Most reliable services are superior to backing up to your own tapes but are much more expensive.
  3. If disaster strikes, recovery of software and data from these remote systems could take significantly more time than from your own tapes.

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