Most of us have experienced that sinking feeling when we suspect data has been lost. Whether you have just spent three hours on an Excel spread sheet, only to accidentally quick 'revert to saved' or knocked the power lead with your foot, or even experienced a power-cut whilst in mid document, we have all come to know the value of having your data backed up.
If you are using a computer in an office, you are probably protected by some sort of backup system on your server that takes a couple of backups per day. But you do need to follow the golden rule of starting a file by saving it in a suitable location on the server before commencing work. Once a file is saved you can then rely on the file responding to undo and auto-save features, as well as the recover previous versions feature. The latest versions of Microsoft Office include incremental save functions that track changes in your file over a considerable time but you must save the file under a suitable server location and filename first!
A backup is simply the process of making copies of essential data, which can be copied back to the original location should the original data somehow become lost, damaged or destroyed.
Backups are useful in two ways, firstly to recover from data loss, as in the above example, but also to restore back to a certain time before an event took place if a previous situation becomes more desirable, or if an older piece of work is suddenly reusable. If you used to have another way of doing things and decide to revert to that older method then you might want to recover the procedure notes etc.
The 'system' in IT terms refers to the files on a disk that make the computer operating system work. If your operating system is Mac OSX then the system files are those that make OSX load and display the visual environment you see when powering up your Apple Mac. If you do not see the normal messages and pictures and instead simply receive an error message, then you have a system failure of some kind. System failures tend to arise from hardware failure, hardware damage, virus infection or simple misuse. In these cases the system must be recovered and then your information must be restored. In most business cases restoring the operating system is a simple matter but recovering the data is only simple if you have a recent backup. If there is no recent backup, then you may have to attempt to recover data from your system which is a lengthy and unreliable process.
A computer crash comes in several guises. Firstly there is the simple 'application is not responding' message, which is usually just a need to remain patient a little longer. If no response is received after a minute or two, then the usual solution is to follow the suggestion of your computer and close the unresponsive application; in this case having saved your file when you began work will save a lot of frustration.
An application may also perform some sort of 'exception' which simply means that something has happened the software has no understanding of. In other words the programmer has not forseen this outcome and the application simply throws a wobbly and shuts down; once again having saved work as you progressed is vital.
A more serious kind of computer crash is when everything freezes and you cannot take any action. In this cases the usual telling sign is whether or not the mouse arrow will still move and if the numlock key still blinks the numlock light on and off. If not, then the computer has suffered some kind of hardware error and may require more serious attention. If the mouse arrow still moves, the computer may just need to be restarted with the reset button. Again, you need to have started out by saving you file before commencing work.
The penultimate type of crash is a catastrophic failure. In the case of Windows, often concluding with a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) This message occurs when Windows detects a problem or error from which it cannot recover, and the operating system halts with a blue or purple screen, which is a sign that the system is about to restart. Even this type of failure is not the worst outcome - that is saved for the worst type of catastrophic failure.
The final meltdown is when the magic blue smoke escapes, along with with a bang, and everything goes off. This type of failure is unmistakably a hardware failure, and the system will not power-up again without replacing at least some of the components. In very rare cases the system can have an exploding battery put an end to everything, or the power supply can catch fire. Once this has happened, an external backup is the last option as fire or impact can render a hard disk unrecoverable.
Very often costs can dictate strategy when it comes to backup, especially if a company has never experienced any type of serious data loss. In these cases a small USB disk attached to the back of a server or PC is often the solution. The major issue with this type of solution is that in th e case of theft, or other type of break-in, the backup is often stolen at the same time as the original data, and so the data loss is total. Modern Cloud solutions such as Office 365 and Xero can mitigate such problems by keeping the data permanently backed up around the world.
A more substantial, but still very cost effective solution to data loss, can be found in a solution like Network Attached Storage or NAS. This is simply a storage device, a disk or disks, attached to the network so that your data can be copied to somewhere thieves or fire might not reach, such as a storage cupboard on another floor or room. This is a good solution because connectivity is still very fast, so you can recover a server or network rapidly, rather than awaiting data to be downloaded or delivered.
A second server where everything is backed up to is also a great solution. If you have a lot of users on-site, then you will have important data such as user names and passwords, that need to be retained in order to secure and restore your systems. This data can be synchronised with a second server and all the data can be copied there. If this second server is kept in an alternative location, and can remain connected throughout, you may have your business back up and running in a very short time space indeed. This is a great alternative to paying cloud subscription for backup or for data storage.
The larger customer networks tend to revolve around all sorts of customised elements that rely on all sorts of printers and servers, allowing business processes to be streamlined. In the event of disaster such as fire, then insurance is usually the most important question. For our larger customers we can keep data onsite at our offices and keep spare workstations, so that in the event of a major disaster, they can have their phone number diverted here and use their core data for a few days whilst new office space is arranged. This disaster recovery backup is for reserved for companies that demand business continuity under any circumstances.
Full disaster recovery is a service that we rent out to our customers on a monthly basis and involves us maintaining a special network subdivided from our own. This network is kept exclusively for their use in case of emergency, and can be connected to a LAN in our offices which has PC workstations readied for their use. Once their staff arrive, the relevant phone numbers are diverted to a service here, which then allows them to continue as if they were still in their own offices. This is a useful service for companies that need to maintain business and do not rely on warehouses or retail outlets.
Our prices are calculated on capacity of data backed up and type of restore - contact us for multiple backup pricing.
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