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Data Solutions for Business Continuity:

Backup and Recovery Best Practices

Data backup and recovery are essentially exercises in risk management, with the goal of insuring business continuity. Given the potential cost of lost information and downtime to a business, a thoroughly planned and vetted data backup and recovery process is essential. These data solutions will be constrained by cost, however, and most businesses must strive to find a workable balance between mitigating risk and associated data cost. The end result is often that a business will simply acquire as much protection as is affordable, following some common sense data solutions and adopting some recovery and backup ‘best practices.’

Standard Data Solutions for Business Continuity
Some of these practices have emerged as de facto industry standards. Here are eight widely recommended data solutions for backup and recovery:

1) Routine Backups.
Routinely schedule and execute a full backup and differential/incremental backup (partial backup for files that have changed since the last full or partial backup). A differential or incremental backup will be performed on a more regular basis than a full backup (for example, daily as opposed to weekly). Develop a backup schedule that fits your electronic business model and strikes an appropriate balance between mitigating risk and data cost.

2) Separate Backups.
Backup operating systems separately from your applications and associated data files. This will simplify full operating system recovery and facilitate portability of your applications and data.

3) Multiple Copies.
Backup multiple copies of your systems/data to protect against media failure such as a corrupted disk.

4) Encryption.
Encrypt every backup for network security, particularly in the case of sensitive data such as financial or health records. Such data may be covered by compliancy regulations that require verification of encryption by auditors.

5) Different Locations.
Store every backup in a different physical location than your usual place of business to protect against natural or other disasters. Sensitive data as described above may require physical access restrictions that cannot be met in your usual place of business.

6) Disk-to-Disk Backup.
Utilize a disk-to-disk backup (as opposed to magnetic tape) for increased store and access times. With the substantial decrease in cost for disk media, transition from tape to disk is increasingly affordable.

7) Regular Backup and Recovery Tests.
Test your backup and data recovery procedures on a regular basis. This will not only verify the functionality of the process but will also provide accurate backup and retrieval times as the size of your backup images potentially increase.

8) Documented Backup and Data Recovery Procedures.
This aspect is perhaps the most neglected in the process and one of the most vital. Full documentation will facilitate any required troubleshooting of the process and ensure a smooth transition of backup responsibilities should staffing changes occur.

Data Solutions Utilizing Colocation
Some of these best practices, as well as some operational aspects of backup and data recovery, can be effectively addressed through the use of a colocation facility to house your backup devices. The use of a colocation facility offers several advantages over the use of in-house facilities:

1) Reliability.
A colocation facility will feature an environmentally controlled space, power and network redundancy including back-up generators, and an in-house staff to manage and monitor the facility.

2) Network Security.
Physical security for backup devices is provided by the controlled access offered by the colocation facility. Any compliancy requirements relating to access are easily addressed in the colocation environment as is on-site verification.

3) Off-Site Backup Storage for Business Continuity.
The remote colocation facility provides physical separation between place of business and storage devices/media, and many colocation facilities are constructed in locations that offer some protection from potential natural or other disasters (above flood plains, away from airports, etc.).

4) Transport Options for Off-Site Access to Data Backup/Recovery Devices.
Most colocation facilities support multiple transport technologies for remote customer access (Ethernet, SONET, DSx, etc.) and therefore give the consumer transport options for access to their backup/recovery devices.

In addition to these benefits, the colocation model allows a business to retain control over the backup and data recovery processes and associated devices. Unlike a backup and data recovery service, any platform or process changes are dictated by the business, and costly operational changes can be strategically controlled. For business continuity and cost control, colocation space is a very affordable and advantageous option for off-site location of data recovery devices and data solutions. Syringa Networks offers a robust and low cost collocation service. We would be excited to show you how we can host your collocation needs at one of our facilities. For further information, please contact Larry Price at 208-297-5225.