Top 10 Questions To Help You Select A Backup Management Firm
Computer backups are often the only thing that saves a company from disaster. One of my mentors often said that backups should be treated in the same way you would treat cash money. Backups need to be accounted for, secure, and available to you when you need them. There isn't any on-size-fits-all when it comes to computer backups. Each situation needs to be analyzed to produce a solution that works for you. There are many companies that will sell you computer backup software. There are many local IT Services firms that will sell you a backup solution and possibly backup management. How do you know they are giving you the best possible backup solution for your situation?
In this article we introduce a series of questions to help you find the best backup management firm for your situation.
Question 1 - How much experience do you have managing backups?
The company itself may be relatively new, but the people at the company need to have many years of experience. There are so many things that can and do go wrong with computer backups. It's only through years of experience that people recognize these different situations and avoid a data disaster.
Question 2 - Is the experience varied with many different types of backup software and backup software packages?
There is a wide range of backup software that work in very different ways. Some of the software works by setting it on a schedule and backing up once or twice a day. Other software backs up all new changes every 15 minutes, and still others backup immediately upon saving the document. Some software only backs up data, while others backup everything on the computer, and still others can do what is called "Bare Metal" restores. In a typical small business using multiple types of backup software is not uncommon. When choosing a backup management firm you want a firm with experience in various types of backup software.
Question 3 - In situations where a scheduled backup is being used, when do they verify the backup has completed correctly?
There are some firms that will offer you weekly, or next day service. Do your IT Systems allow you to create a backup at the same time you are doing your normal work processes? If not, then you could be without a backup for two days or more. If you find a firm that will check it before you come into work the next day, you would be better off.
Question 4 - In situations where the backup is scheduled multiple times a day or immediately after saving a file, how often do they verify the backup is good?
The answer should be that they are immediately notified of the problem followed by a response time.
Question 5 - How are they notified that a backup failure has occurred?
If the response is they are notified via email, then you have to ask a follow up question. Ask them what happens if they do not receive an email. They should be verifying each day that they received either a success or failure email. There are firms that only rely on a failure notice email. This often leads to data loss. Backup software does not send email if it is not running. We've seen this situation occur. In one case, the client had not had a backup for 1.5 years.
Many firms use a tool that notifies them of a failure, and if the software is running or not. A follow up question in this situation is to ask if they ever do a manual check? They should have a regular scheduled manual check.
Question 6 - How often do they check available backup space?
You should receive a response that indicates a regularly scheduled item. You may also get a response that they have a tool that notifies them when less than 10% of backup space remains. That's telling you that they don't do this check on a regular basis. This can lead to a situation where you are out of backup space and waiting on more backup space. The question now is does 10% of backup space remaining allow you enough time to order, receive, and install more backup space before you run out?
Question 7 - Do they provide a backup space usage report with estimations on when you will run out?
The report is difficult to produce and is only an approximation. However, it can be invaluable in helping you budget and plan for additional space. Many backup management firms avoid this report and instead rely on tools that tell them when you are a certain percentage away from using up all your backup space.
Question 8 - How often do they perform a backup restoration test?
Backup software has a habit of reporting that backups were successful, but when you try to actually restore them you find out that they will not restore. It's important that the restore process is tested on a regular basis. The more often the better. This test is the most important part of backup management.
Question 9 - How often do they verify that all the data is getting backed up?
Some backup software only backs up certain kinds of files located in certain folders. Other software relies on you selecting the folders to be backed up. Many of the newer software packages only backup at the disk level. Changes in the IT Environment can often require changes to the backup scheme. New software is added and new data is collected. It's important that these changes are accounted for. There have been a number of backup failures due to changes in the IT environment. Backup are supposed to be considered when there is any change to the IT Environment, but are often overlooked or not considered at all until it is to late. This regularly scheduled task helps mitigate the damage this situation can cause.
Question 10 - How do they handle getting the backup offsite?
Getting a copy of your backup is very important. Some companies will offer you some kind of revolving disk system. You are expected to diskonnect a drive each day, take it home, and bring it back the next day. There are so many things that can and do go wrong in this situation that it should be avoided. We recommend that a copy of the backup is automatically copied to the cloud or some other offsite storage. We see far fewer issues with this method than any other method.
Unless you are an IT Professional with years of computer backup experience, we highly recommend that you find a backup management firm to manage your backups. Ransomware attacks are real. Disk drives fail. Computer crashes occur. It's important that your computer backup is managed properly to help you avoid data loss.
We are BKUPGEEK. We have over 30 years of experience with computer backups. We've seen the many things that can and do go wrong with computer backups and invalid backup strategies. One size does not fit all. Put our experience to work for you. Still have questions? Chat with us NOW!