Workstation Backup – What to include?

Previously, we discussed the necessity of documenting backups, what was included, where the backups were stored with the time and frequency of those backup jobs. With the growth and accessibility to ‘always on’ cloud backup solutions, such as DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Mozy and Carbonite, many people are not getting the full experience they need to protect their data.

First, let’s consider WHY to use a could file storage solution like DropBox, Google Drive or OneDrive as ‘backup’. In a word, “Don’t”. Not for a backup. These are good cloud based storage of data files, such as documents and photos. Someplace semi-public that is accessible and automatically synchronizing, often times across multiple devices such as desktop, laptop, tablet and phone. They also offer an easy to use method of sharing those same files with others. And for this reason, we don’t want to put certain files in these services.

In Windows 7 and later, the \Users directory holds more than just the documents and photos of the users on that machine. It also holds the Outlook mail folders in either a .PST or .OST file. For most of us that use Outlook, the majority of our contacts are in that file, along with much of our business information. Plus, there are the web browser favorites, user names and passwords. There are also files relevant to the user experience, such as desktop appearance and shortcuts.

The idea of a backup is to have the ability to bring a user to as close to and before an occurrence that requires a restore of their data and profile. We want to restore the user to just before that ‘point of time of failure’ so as to minimize the loss of work. And we want to restore that as quickly as possible, so as to minimize loss of time and productivity.

So, to best cover a single or a handful of systems, we would need a two-pronged approach to backups.

The first is to take full system ‘snapshot’ image backups, at least monthly. These backups are like taking a very detailed photo of the contents of the hard drive, including boot processes and software installed. Usually, onto an external USB hard drive or to a network drive. The more frequent these backups occur, the better, as the less risk of sever data loss.

Next step would be to add an incremental backup of the system, stored to the same hardware. These intermittent backups should occur weekly, as a minimum. A few of my clients have them running every night. These weekly or nightly backups only store what has changes since the last full system image made monthly.

So, with this being the 15th of the month, a monthly backup made on the 1st with weekly incremental backups run on Sunday evenings, a full restore will only return my system to the condition it was in LAST Sunday. I would still be down a full week of productivity, file changes and creation. This is why some clients choose to use weekly images and nightly incremental backups.

But if you were to imagine that your system just crashed, after spending three hours working on a PowerPoint presentation with Excel generated graphs. The backup restored the machine to roughly 3AM this morning. This is where Carbonite, and similar services, earn their keep, as it were. Those programs, PowerPoint and Excel, along with Word, are standardly configured to save an open file every five minutes. Once that file, even as a temporary file is saved, that backup service is able to put a copy of it, into the cloud. Usually every 15 minutes. Now, when you get back form lunch, your IT Department has restored the system to last night’s backup and Carbonite is restoring the files changes this morning. The total amount of work that will have to be ‘repeated’ should be less than 15 minutes. That is a lot less than having to recreate the entire presentation.

Reach out to us, here at Indy’s I.T. Department for a free analysis of your backup solution. We can help identify what is working, what is not and what is missing. Call us at 317-560-4443 or use the Contact Us link to send us an e-mail.

By | 2016-11-04T11:26:44+00:00 May 15th, 2016|Backups, Business Continuity, Documentation, Readiness, Security|0 Comments

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