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Why Backup?

If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. You'll turn on your computer, the hard drive will fail to turn on and you'll receive an error message about the lack of a boot device. Where is your data?

Industry statistics say that 60% of all small businesses who lose their data never open their doors again. Do you have your data backed up? Where would you be if it all disappeared in a puff of smoke? Do you have fire insurance for your business? If you do, but you don't have your data backed up, you are many times more likely to suffer from data loss as from a fire. Why pay for fire insurance and risk the whole enterprise on a cheap piece of hardware like a hard drive?

Buffalo Network Access Storage deviceAt the very least, you should copy important data from one computer, across the network, to another. If one computer dies, you still have the data on the other. Works great until you have a fire, flood, earthquake or theft. It is strongly recommended that you develop some strategy that moves the data off-premises at least once a week. If you have DSL at home and work, you can copy the data off the work computer to the home computer over the Internet -- as long as you are extremely careful about how you set up security to access your work computer. If you can get in from the Internet, a hacker might as well.

The definition of a backup is that the data must be in two different locations. Backup strategies for small businesses must include two items: (1) A local backup, preferably images of all the computers on the network; and (2) an offsite backup that can be accessed in case of theft, flood, fire or other calamity in the office (having had our offices burgled, Ventura County Computers is very aware of this issue).

For onsite storage, you can copy your data or computer images to a Network Access Storage device (NAS), an external USB/Firewire hard drive or a dedicated backup drive inside your computer. Nothing else works as well for onsite backups. They will save you hours of work if your computer's hard drive dies and you want to get up and running fast. Restore your setup and away you go.

A few years ago in Ventura, near Ventura College, a car hit a power pole. Electrical devices for several city blocks were wiped out. Not only were computers, backup drives and other items we think of as being vulnerable to power issues destroyed, but TVs, toasters, refrigerators and most everything else fried as well. Surge protectors were of little help. VCC has been burgled, it could happen to you. Having your only backup in the same location as your original data is a bad idea.

To make matters worse, there is a new breed of virus (see article on Cryptolocker) that encrypts your data and then demands a ransom to unlock it for you. The keys they use to encrypt it would take NSA many centuries to unlock. No one will be able to get your data back unless you pay the ransom. In the five months since it was unleashed, estimates are that more than $200 million has been paid to these hackers. The Swansea Police Department in Massachusetts had to pay them off.

If you have a backup that overwrites the old copy of the data with the latest version, you are in trouble. After Cryptolocker encrypts your data, your backup will overwrite data you could read with data you can't. The only remedy is to have a backup with versioning. Versioning keeps several versions of documents in storage, so if yesterday's is corrupt you can restore last weeks (or whatever). If your backup solution doesn't have versioning, you are at severe risk.

Cryptolocker and its variants are network aware, meaning they will encrypt all data files they can reach anywhere on your network. If you have a NAS, USB or internal backup drive, it will encrypt your backup. Nothing it can reach is safe. This includes cloud backups like Dropbox, OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Google Drive and all the other simple cloud backups. There is only one safe way to ensure your data: backup using a different account than the one you log in with and make sure your regular account doesn't have access to the backup. By far, the easiest and best way to handle this is with a cloud backup. Home users should get a Carbonite or Mozy backup. VCC is a reseller for both and can help decide which meets your needs best.

Servers need different software. VCC likes the Mozy server backup and recommends it for our small business customers. It is easy to use, provides VCC and you with a quick view of your backup activity so you can see any issues immediately. It keeps many copies of data, so versioning is well taken care of. The software uses the credentials from your Mozy account, so no virus can get into the backup area. It's truly an excellent choice. Talk to us about it if you don't have a cloud, versioned backup solution.

Just to put the complexities of backup into perspective. We've had a version of this file online for a dozen years or so. When Cryptolocker came out, I had to delete about two-thirds of the recommendations -- they no longer provide adequate protection. This is basically a new article because of the new threats to your data. Please, take some time to think about your backup strategies and imagine what would happen if all your data were encrypted. Would you be able to get your data back?

Backup systems

  • Managed Cloud Backup
  • Cloud Backup
  • Network Access Storage (NAS)
  • USB/eSATA device
  • Internal Backup Drive
  • Flash Drives
  • CD/DVD
  • Tape

A cloud backup is Dropbox, Google Drive and the like. There is no versioning. Anything your user account can reach can be attacked by a virus. A managed cloud backup like Mozy or Carbonite, uses an online account to backup with. Your personal account has no direct access to the data on the cloud. This means a virus cannot get to the data.

The less said about CD/DVD and tape, the better.

Help Pages

Need Help?

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Visit the CIPCUG user group website for the best self-help resource in the county.