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Planning a backup schedule? What questions should you ask yourself before you dive in?

Planning a backup schedule

What files need to be backed up? Your immediate answer is everything. But, does it all need to be saved as part of the formal backup procedures? For example, since the Windows NT operating system is delivered on CD-ROM, there may not be a pressing need to back up the system files. However, it is probably better to back up too many files, than to overlook something important. Murphys Law that one file accidentally overlooked will be the first one to go!

Where are these files? Where are the important files and what systems hold important data?

Who will back up the files? The answer may depend on where the files are. For example, many sites assign the backup responsibility for server systems to the system administrator, but makes users responsible for files that they keep on their workstations local disks.

What resources are available for performing backups? Both the number and characteristics of available output devices, such as their media capacity and write speed, and the specific software packages that are present on the systems in question are important factors in developing an effective backup plan.

Where, when, and under what conditions should backups be performed? This refers to the computer system on which the backup will be performed, which obviously need not be the same as the system where the files are physically located. In an ideal world. All backups would be performed after hours on idle file systsems. Thats not always practical in the real world, however.

How often do these files change? This information will help you decide both when and how often to perform backups and the type of schedule to implement. For example, if your system supports a large ongoing development project, then the files on it are likely to change frequently and will need to be backup up at least daily and probably after hours.

How quickly does an important missing or damaged file need to be restored? The timeframe in which key files need to be back online must be taken into account. Your site may only have one irreplaceable file, but youll need to plan differently depending on whether it is 100 KB or 10GB in size.

Where will the data be restored? Will the backup files be used only on the system from which they were made, or is there an expectation that they could be restored to a different system in an emergency?

From "Essential Windows NT System Administration" by Aeleen Frisch

O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.

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