Fort Branch Town Hall recently came close to experiencing a major disaster.
According to an article in last week’s South Gibson Star-Times, multiple hard drives in the town’s server failed simultaneously. Stored on these hard drives was critical information used by town employees every single day.
Had all the hard drives completely failed, business at Fort Branch Town Hall would have come to a standstill – at least for a significant period of time. Some of the data might have been forever lost. And the cost of recreating the lost files could have easily run into the thousands of dollars. All paid for by your tax dollars.
I shook my head as I read each sentence of the story. I wondered why such important digital files weren’t being protected by an off-site backup system already.
Maybe whoever installed the server didn’t recommend or adequately explain why off-site backup is important – and what the consequences of not having it are.
Maybe it was recommended, but the decision makers didn’t approve it.
But on the day the server died, I guarantee everyone affected was praying for a miracle. It appears they got lucky – this time.
In this one stress-filled moment, they realized the importance of protecting their critical files by backing them up.
I encounter this exact same scenario in most small businesses and government agencies with which I consult. Most do not think about what would happen if their computers, their servers, or their hard drives failed. They don’t realize the cost of lost business, of lost employee productivity, or what it would take to create the lost files from scratch.
Even the majority of home users I talk to don’t realize all of the pictures, documents and music stored only on their desktops and laptops could be forever lost if a nasty virus attacked their PC or if the hard drive failed.
Businesses and home users’ computers alike are also subject to natural disasters and other calamities. Tornados, fires, and floods do happen here.
External hard drives aren’t a good solution.
Using a $60 external hard drive connected to your computer gives you a false sense of security.
While it’s better than not backing up your important files at all, this method of data protection is fraught with problems.
• Hard drives fail 100% of the time. Including external hard drives.
I recently had a client bring in her external hard drive where years’ worth of family photos and documents had been backed up. Her computer wouldn’t recognize when it was attached.
Our diagnostics revealed the drive had physically failed. It would cost a minimum of $500 to send the drive to a clean lab to see if they could even extract any of the files off the internal platters of the drive.
• Backups on your external hard drive can be destroyed by viruses.
Most people leave their external hard drives connected to their computer. But by doing so, it makes it easy for certain types of viruses to not only damage the files on your computer, but also on the external hard drive. Thus destroying both your original and backup copies.
• Your external hard drive can perish in a fire, flood, tornado or other disaster.
Since the external drive is most likely kept plugged in to your computer, if something physically happens to the location where your PC and external drive are, both your original files and their backups are lost.
Off-site backups provide the best security and peace of mind.
Off-site backups eliminate the three points of failure external hard drives have. It also means you don’t have to remember to back up your files.
Not all off-site backup solutions are created equally, though. Carbonite and Mozy are two of the most popular backup solutions advertised. They’re also cheap. But they are among the worst when it comes to reliability, which is what’s most important.
It’s best to consult your trusted computer advisor to determine the right solution for your specific needs.
The million dollar question
Will you call me now, before disaster strikes, to talk about protecting your important digital files?
Or will you be like Fort Branch officials and calling in a panic after a catastrophe, begging for a miracle?