You'll probably have one of two basic strategies for backing up your data

... if we're wrong and you have a more complex strategy you probably don't need our help with this one.

  1. on-site
  2. off-site

and you make that decision for one of two reasons

  1. advice
  2. trust

we can help you bridge the gap on the issues and provide a robust on-site/off-site strategy that supports not only the security and integrity of your data but assists in managing that information through a planned life-cycle; from birth to extinguishment.

strategic redundancy

There are a few common reasons for not trusting on-site backups; and a few common reasons for mis-trust in off-site backups. And they're common because they're well founded. We'll walk through a couple of those here and try to legitimise our strategy so you can assess whether it's of benefit to your business.

failures of on-site backup

Put plainly, the primary failure of on-site backup is the humans.

People are not so good at executing procedures as computers and so things get left behind, especially those things that are only occasionally important. The reality is that in 10 years of consulting I've seen far more dead backup plans than operational ones -- and I do mean entirely inoperational -- not sporadic. Even more striking is that this is as true for soft business (businesses that are entirely dependent on digital information as their businsess) as it is for hard businesses (businesses that deal in goods and real-world services).

The short, harsh discussion that most managers will have with themselves in admitting this does not alter human behaviour and whatever plans are put in place, the primary result is a shift in responsibility without any long-term improvement in the redundancy of information. Another thing that might be worth considering is, is your organisations is highly dynamic and, consequently, loosely defined -- this is a common reality of the small, multi-tasking teams that keep a small business profitable.

We need to be honest here about the scope of the discussion and say that disaster planning is not a facet of the SME sector. We are talking here of backups only. Disaster recovery generally remains entirely unassessed so we'll only talk of data here.

shortcomings of cloud services

Of course, the primary advantages of on-site backups are that they are fast, dynamic and tangible. When data moves the backups don't fall behind and you can always stick a tape back-in to pull information from the ether and although improvements in technology have significantly improved the performance the data demands have increased to match that and, as a result, many have found that online backups end up being

Continuously out-of-date backups are common where the organisation is setting out a new structure for it's data, re-naming folders and heirarchies of information. There are ways to manage this but most online services struggle with this and none fully resolve it.

  1. incomplete
  2. out of date or continuously operating
  3. a nightmare to recover

The first point is the most significant. Reproducing every byte of data that your organisation produces, results in vast oceans of junk that cost you every day and make management and recovery a more complicated and expensive procedure. There is no magical solution to that problem but solid, core services are the first step.

Those who have had the misfortune of needing their backup service have found that recovering hundreds of gigabytes of data is not something that can happen instantly -- in fact, it does not even happen quickly.

The final caveat for cloud services is that your business data is confidential and the only realistic way to be comfortable with the security of your data is ignorance.

developing the life-cycle

The honest truth is that the first step in successful procedures is proper understading. Information needs understood, defined; the life-cyle of most information follows one of a few, common iterations that allow it to be efficiently monitored, stored and recovered.

Only the most technical business manager is going to be in a position to do this entirely themselves but every small business manager knows their business; intimitely. And this, combined with some generic structures allow us to define information flows for your information that allow it not only to be backed-up more efficiently but also organised more clearly.

For example, HR data. It starts when someone sends their CV to the company, grows during their time in the organisation, closes when they leave and then goes through a period of holding until it expires into archive (or deletion). This may seem obvious but this process need evaluated in relation to all the business assets, for example, the employee's email stores.

some technical details

[NB: this has turned into an article -- needs moved]