Most people don't take backups seriously until they lose precious data and all the hours that went into it. Computers are vital to all businesses these days and if you are depending on this technology to work everyday with minimal downtime then backups are a must.
There are a number of systems and devices which you should consider backing up. There are your servers, phone system (if it's internet based), internet modems, camera settings, workstations, printers, etc. Every device that you can configure in an administration panel has cost you time to set up. You can backup anything.
There are two main backups, one is data and another is a full system backup. The full system backup can be done less regularly as the system doesn't change as much as the data. Data backups should include all your databases, client files and email. These backups should be done daily at a minimum, some companies do a backup every hour, this ensures that the most time you will lose if something goes wrong is one hour of work.
With nightly backups of your data there are a number of media to choose from. If you only have small amounts of data you can opt for USB devices, which range in quality and price so make sure you get a quality brand. For large amounts of data you may want portable USB hard drives, these are a fast way to backup. There is also tape, which is the cheapest way to backup lots of data. When doing your nightly backups it's important to keep a log to record the process and make sure you label each backup. I usually suggest people have a backup for each day of the week and have at least four Wednesday backups so that you can go back four weeks.
It is vital that one staff member is designated the job of looking after the backups everyday and takes the backup offsite. Backups are taken offsite in case of fire or theft. Another thing to think about when taking backups offsite is encryption. What happens if someone loses the backup, is all your data safe? There are plenty of easy ways to encrypt your backups.
In regards to system backups I do these weekly or annually depending on the server and how often the software changes. When taking these backups it's important to test the backup. Setup a test machine and pretend that all you have is the backup in your hand and some new hardware. Can you replicate the system and boot it up? If you cannot then the backup is worthless and you should overhaul your backup procedure.
When doing backups it's easy to forget about the small devices that are at your business’s core. I'm talking about your phone system, internet modem and printer settings. These all take time to configure and they are vital to running your business. These can be backed up and documented and even copied to the nightly backup as they are very small.
Once you have all your backups in place you should let other people in the organisation know how it works. How do we recover a file from yesterday? How do we rebuild the system when hardware fails? How is the backup performed? All these questions should be answered with clear and simple documentation. Don't assume that the person reading the documentation is computer savvy. This will make your life easier as well, when it comes time to use one of these backups, and there will be a time, you can simply follow this documentation. It's a stressful time when servers go down and you need to use a backup; having documentation will make the process fast and less painful.
Investing time to protect your data and system assets is vital to your business and should not to be taken lightly.