disaster and your business should be able to survive the inevitable
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #314 October 31, 1995 High Tech
things, right? Could we imagine trying to run our businesses without
them, as if we were back in the 1970s?
we are more and more dependent on them. What would happen to your
business if your computers suddenly stopped working? Or if you unlocked
the door one morning, and found they simply weren't there? Has your
business prepared for the range of possible computer disasters?
involves theft: notebooks are popular targets--easily stolen and easy
to unload. On the other hand, while the loss of a notebook may
a single employee, it is unlikely that it would be critical to the
day-to-day operation of a business.
can also be targets, and in at least a couple of cases I'm aware of,
thieves opened up the computers, removed the RAM chips, and neatly
put everything back together, leaving with about 200 megs of RAM
value around $10,000) invisible in their pockets. High-end CPUs are
also easily removed, and worth a couple of hundred dollars each.
while frustrating, is easy to recover from: just replace the RAM or
CPU, and the computer is back up and running, data intact. More
to most businesses than the loss of the physical computer is loss
of the data, which, while valueless to most thieves, can be vital
to the company.
taken all the
standard, low-tech precautions to secure your equipment? Dead bolts,
alarms, motion detectors? Look at the physical arrangement of your
equipment. A receptionist's computer may be vulnerable in a relatively
open front area, but your far more vital network-server should probably
be locked in a more secure internal office or closet. Where are your
records, listing equipment for police and insurance claims? Are there
multiple copies, possibly off-site? Make printouts of equipment
lists: if the only records are on the hard drive of the machine that
is stolen, you've got big problems.
In the event of theft or other disaster, can you get replacement
quickly? Will there be technical support to help you get it all set
up and running when you need it? Theft, fire, water damage,
these can result in loss of data. But disaster needn't be so dramatic.
While micro-electronic parts like RAM chips and CPUs are pretty rugged,
hard drives are mechanical, and prone to failure--usually when you
need them most. While today's hard drives are much more reliable than
those of a decade ago, they still may simply break down.
mechanical breakdown, theft or some other disaster, you need a way
to ensure that your business's data can be restored quickly, minimizing
loss and disruption.
answer, of course,
is frequent backups. Some people suggest there are only two categories
of computer users--those who back up regularly because they've already
had a data disaster that found them unprepared, and those who have
not yet had their disaster.
it is getting
easier to make those backups. You no longer have to go out and buy
boxes of floppy disks to back up a hard drive (about 700 diskettes
to back up a one-gigabyte hard drive), and spend an evening shuffling
them in and out of the disk drive. Tape drives are the most popular
format for backups, and have come down dramatically in price, while
tape capacity has increased, to keep pace with the rise in hard-drive
machines to back up should look at tape drives that use the computer's
printer port: that way, a single unit can be shared between many
(Keeping all important data on the network server will also simplify
(CD-R) become more affordable (units are currently hovering somewhere
over the $1,000 mark), this will become a more practical way to make
reflects your business's needs, based on how much data is generated
and how much work it will be to recreate it, and then follow that
strategy! For example, you may want to make a full backup of each
network server and important desktop units once a week. In many cases,
software can be set up to run overnight, unattended. At the end of each
business day, run an incremental backup that quickly copies only those
files that have changed since the last backup.
strategy by restoring
a series of backups. That way, in case of loss or disaster, the most
that will be lost is a single day's data--a problem, of course, but
one you can handle.