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How to Create an Offsite Data Backup and Restore Plan


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Once a business accepts the need for regular remote backups, the IT department requires a written backup and restore procedure. Creating such a plan doesn't have to be difficult and will reduce confusion so that your data storage system is protected.

Creating a Backup Plan

When creating a backup plan, decide what data should be included in the backup. Backup space costs money. Nightly backups of files that haven't changed in over a year may not be the most cost effective solution. Isolating particular directories or file types can reduce the size of the backup while still protecting important data.

Any backup plan should include multiple copies in case the backup file happens to be damaged at the same time the main server is corrupted. It is even possible for the system to crash during the backup operation, losing both your server and the backup. If you are overwriting your lone backup at the time, you just lost everything.

The simplest redundancy plan is to have two backups and alternate between them, however many companies have more. A common practice is to have one backup for every weekday so there are five backup files, one for Monday, one for Tuesday, and so on.

Finally, your offsite data backup plan should include a schedule of test restores. It is always possible you are backing up to a corrupt destination and none of your backups are intact. Ideally you should restore a few files every backup so you know the operation went through successfully.

Don't Forget the Restore Plan

It's easy to remember to create the backup plan since it is a procedure that affects your company every day. However what happens after disaster strikes? After major equipment failure, the department is likely to be in confusion.

There is pressure to get the data restored as quickly as possible as company operations can't continue until the system is running again. Imagine how much worse if the failure is due to a disaster like a fire. A detailed step-by-step restore plan is an integral part of a comprehensive offsite data backup procedure.

A solid restore plan makes it that much easier to get your business running smoothly again after disaster. You may need multiple plans for different contingencies. Bad sectors on a hard drive might require restoring just a few files, while a catastrophic incident could involve fully reformatting and restoring your entire server.

For best results, all offsite data backup and restore procedures should be fully tested by the personnel who will be performing the operation. This may reveal missing steps or inaccurate instructions. Tests will have to be conducted during a time the files involved aren't in use, which usually means IT staff coming in after hours.

When testing, make local backups of the files to be tested in case the restore procedure goes wrong. Though it may require a bit of time to create an offsite data backup and restore plan, once you have a systematic, documented system in place offsite data backups will become a simple part of the regular routine. If and when disaster strikes, it will be well worth the effort!

Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on Data Storage and Online Data Backup, please visit


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