Bob Milliken Picture-computer cents COLORThe old saying “pack your own parachute” comes to mind when I think of data backups or, more specifically, data RECOVERY. But how many people don’t know how to pack their proverbial data backup “parachute” and instead rely on someone else—be they an employee or vendor?

If that’s you, read on. Since the absolute WORST time to check your backups is AFTER a data disaster, all company CEOs ought to know the answers to the following questions NOW so they aren’t unpleasantly surprised later when data gets erased and they’re scrambling to get back up and running:

  1. 1.      Where EXACTLY is your data being backed up, and how do you get access to it? If it’s being hosted in a remote place, you ought to have the account information and a direct contact you can call if your vendor or employee goes missing with this information. Ideally, this information should be in your network documentation that is kept in your operations manual or somewhere you can easily access if necessary.


  1. 2.     Do you have a clear understanding of how the US Patriot Act can affect you?  The US Patriot Act gives permission to American law enforcement officers to conduct extensive searches of your business data without your knowledge and without a court order. If your data is stored in the US, it is subject to the Patriot Act. If you do business in Canada then the location of your data is particularly important to you.


  1. 3.     Who’s responsible for monitoring the backups to make sure they are working? When data is lost, the finger pointing starts. It’s not uncommon to discover that the responsible party (be they a vendor or employee) actually has no idea that they had such an important responsibility. Keep in mind that many offsite backup companies accept limited responsibility (if any) for the integrity of your backup process.


  1. 4.     How often do you run a test restore? The only way to know for sure if your backups are working properly is to conduct a test restore or “fire drill” of your data. We recommend running a test once a month at a minimum to verify that you can actually restore from your backups in an emergency.


  1. 5.     If your data is lost, what’s the process required to restore it? Some business owners don’t realize that their raw data backups would take a LOT longer to restore than they imagine. If you are not “imaging” your data (taking quick snapshots), you will have to completely rebuild your network and only THEN restore the data—a process that can easily take 5 days or more – PROVIDED you still have your original software discs and licenses.


To learn more about Backup and Disaster Recovery and how it should be a critical component of your IT strategy please feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Your comments are appreciated –


Bob Milliken is the president of Cascadia Systems Group.