The key to backing up the right information

If you're not backing up the correct data, then all of the safeguards you have in place will not keep your business running when disaster does strike.

An ounce of prevention may be a pound of cure, but when it comes to backup and recovery, it's important to make sure that you're taking the right preventative action. If you're not backing up the correct data, then all of the safeguards you have in place will not keep your business running when disaster does strike.

Every organization, regardless of size, has what I like to call "diamonds." These diamonds are pieces of information that are critical to running your company. They are not all found in one place, however. They are scattered throughout your organization. They're tricky that way.

Sometimes the diamonds are obvious: Your company's accounting data, for instance. Or your customer prospect list. But others can be hidden in little corners of the company, and their loss can sometimes be crippling to an organization.

Here are a few examples of diamonds that can be found across various areas of business:

Marketing: The chief marketing office might be thinking ahead to next year; he's putting in a few extra hours in the evenings crafting a killer campaign for next year. It resides only on his laptop. What happens if the laptop is damaged and the data is lost? If it's not part of the routine back ups set up by your IT department, you've just lost a diamond.

Development: You have a whiz-kid developer working on next year's killer application. It's nothing but code in its infant stages sitting on a single PC. A power spike hits the drive. Another diamond is lost.

Financial: Forecasting is a critical part of any organization's successful growth. If the CFO only has that information and something were to happen to that diamond, it can often mean any other financial information has lost all strategic value without that forecast.

Human Resources: This is always a sensitive area, so often HR information is only kept in one place. It could be next year's raises, employee discipline records or simply day to day pay roll information.

There are just a few examples of important items that could be considered the diamonds of a company. If their loss doesn't halt the company's operations completely, they will certainly slow down a particular business process or project to the point the organization loses competitive advantage.

Regardless of your backup strategy or the technology you select, be sure to pinpoint those diamonds and make sure they're a part of any backup plan.

About the author: Doug Owens is director CBL Data Recovery Technology Inc.'s San Diego laboratory and the data recovery firm's resident tape expert. E-mail him at dowens@cbltech.com.

This was first published in December 2004

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