Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Backups and Disaster Recovery

My own laptop suffered a fatal motherboard failure yesterday morning, as I was happily using it, meaning that I was suddenly without my main computer. Have you considered what it would mean to you if your computer were to suddenly die? No warning signs, no nasty noises; it simply dies. Could you recover from such a situation, and if so, how quickly?

In my own case I have a Next Business Day hardware warranty with Dell, so I simply waited for the engineer to arrive at my office to carry out the repair. I was only without the computer for about 24 hours altogether. If I didn’t have such a warranty I could have been looking at a bill of about £180 and a delay of up to a week for a repair by a company other than Dell.

Most computers are only covered by a 12 month manufacturers warranty, which is invariably on “Return to Base” cover. That means the user must post the computer back to the manufacturer, who will repair and return it. Turn-round time in that case is usually about 3 weeks.

Because the issue with my own computer was the motherboard, all of my data, which is held on the Hard Drive, is still there. As soon as the new motherboard was fitted the computer simply worked again, with everything the same as before. But what if it doesn’t? What if it had been the Hard Drive which had died? Or if the laptop had been stolen? How would you recover from such a situation?

IT geeks always go on about Backup. How often do you backup your own data? How do you know what you are backing up? Do you ever attempt to restore data that has been backed up? You should consider how you would recover from the total loss of one, or more, of your computers.

How long would it take to get back to where you started? Do you have a reliable and robust backup in place? Do you know what your hardware warranty terms are and how you are covered? Does your insurance need to be updated to cover your computer equipment?

In the few hours that I was without my laptop I felt as if my right arm was missing. This is despite the fact that I have other computers that I can use – but they aren’t as efficient and I would have had to restore the data backup, which can be a hassle. (But can also be a life-saver)

Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning are boring subjects, which most people choose to ignore. They believe it will never happen to them – but it does happen to the best of us. And it can happen very suddenly. I meet many clients who look at me with disbelief when I break the news to them that their data has gone forever, because their hard drive has collapsed. They look at me blankly when I ask if they have a backup.

I’m good, but I’m not that good! BACK IT UP!

© Michael Donkin 2010