Server Hard Drive Backup: Paying For Peace of Mind

Customers that buy our servers are consistently asking for our opinion and recommendation on server backups, RAID configurations and virus protection. I’ll explain the most common concerns our customers encounter and options to make sure you’re protected against data leakage and outright data loss.

Losing Your Data: How it happens
If you are a small to medium sized business there are three things you should be worried about when it comes to losing your crucial server data.
1. Hardware failure or corruption – Everyone has had computer hardware problems at some point and if a power supply or the motherboard in your server fails, you’ll be OK, but if your hard drive(s) crashes, you will be happy you read this article.
2. Force Majeure or Theft – If you come to work and your server is gone because of a class 5 hurricane, flash flood, earthquake or other serious natural disaster you’ll wish preventative measures were taken in advance. More probable than severe weather and natural disasters is the likelihood of theft. Planning ahead and preparing an offsite backup can make you the office hero and help operations continue to function.
3. Viruses & Malware – Why do people think their server is immune from hackers trying to access customer information while purposely deleting/corrupting data? Can you stake your businesses’ future on the reliability of firewalls and systems currently in place?

“Downtime caused by data loss can adversely impact your company…An hour of disruption can cost a small company $8,000, a medium company $74,000, and larger enterprises roughly $700,000,” according to Athens Micro.

Onboard Server Hard Drive Redundancy
Some people are optimistic about the life of their hardware, while others think it could crash at any moment. Although we applaud the optimism, when it comes to “operation critical” data that could set you back years and cost you thousands of dollars, it is worthwhile to be pessimistic. It may be overkill, but IBC has put in as many as 12 hard drives into one server to make sure the capacity and redundancy needs of a customer are met in the immediate and expected future. We recommend at least two drives that mirror each other allowing for one barrier of protection in case of hard drive failure.

Off-site Backup: DO IT!
The risk of a fire, theft, or natural disaster may be unlikely in your area but an off-site back up is still a wise investment. There are two good options for this: physical drives being backed up daily and brought home with you when you aren’t there or uploading your back-up to a secure server somewhere that isn’t in your immediate area. Both ideas have the same principle but the decision comes down to personal preference.

1. Pros/Cons of Physical Drive Data Back Up
PROs:
-You keep control by always having the backups somewhere in your possession.
-You know the backups are definitely getting done.
-Less expensive than other options.
CONs:
-You could lose or damage the backup drive, rendering it useless.
-They can get bulky to carry around.
-If you are on vacation or not at the office the backups don’t get done.

2. Pros/Cons of Offsite Data Backup
PROS:
-You can access it anywhere.
-You can always pay for more storage under the same username/password.
-Possible data protection (double-backup), free or not.
CONS :
-You can forget a username/password.
-External hard drives are paid for once, online hosting can cost money per month or year, costing more in the long-run.
-File quality may decrease as it is transferred over the internet to the storage site.
-Tighter administrative oversight required to avoid improper use by employees.

Virus Protection for Servers
You may think that your server is safe from virus/malware because all the individual PC’s that operate within the building already have an antivirus running, but there are still ways to infect your server. Our recommended policy when it comes to critical info is to “trust nothing”. Here is a list of ways that a virus can get onto your server:
1. A staff member can save a file onto the server that is infected with a virus.
2. Not all antivirus programs catch every virus.
3. An unknowing, non-computer savvy store owner who has administrative rights could accidentally infect the server files.
4. Server permission has not been set correctly allowing staff to download malicious software/files from unsecure locations.

Paying For Peace of Mind
The bottom line message to take away from this article is that you really need to consider what your information is worth to your business. The cost of insuring your servers’ data we think is minimal in comparison to the losses in revenue due to the inability to put through sales transactions for often two weeks or more!