We say regular back-ups are the best way to protect your business and keep things running smoothly if something goes wrong with your computers. We are often asked about the best approach. Let’s start with the definition of a “backup” found in Dictionary.com.
a. A copy or duplicate version, especially of a file, program, or entire computer system, retained for use in the event that the original is in some way rendered unusable.
b. A procedure to follow in such an event.
As you can see in the definition, there are two parts of a backup – the duplication of files as well as the act of creating that duplication.
For the first part, a backup is a duplicate or a copy of the original data, be it a file, program or the contents of a whole computer. We will go further and say that a true backup has to be on a physically different medium than where your primary data is stored. It is also recommended that a copy of the back up be removed from your physical location in case there is a fire or flood, which may destroy both copies.
For the second part of the definition — a procedure to follow — copying a file(s) by hand to an external drive is a backup in the simplest form, but it is not a procedure a business can depend upon. Unless you will remember to backup all of your important files regularly, We recommend an automated backup solution.
By automating the backup procedure, we remove one of the weakest parts of a backup – the human element. We can decide what files, or folders you want to backup, and have the computer copy them to an external drive on some sort of schedule, without us having to remember to perform the backup ourselves. How often you have the backup run, as well as what files you want backed up is something you can configure and manage depending on your individual needs.
A good procedure has 3 key parts:
1. The backing up of the files.
2. Checking that the backup is running and actually backing up your files.
3. Knowing what steps you take to retrieve files from your backup – be it individual files or a full system restore.
Make sure you know how to check on your automated backup tool. How you check whether files are actually being backed up depends on what tool you are using. If you are you using Apple’s Time Machine you can click on the clock icon in your menu bar – it will let you know the last time a Time Machine backup ran successfully.
Retrieving your data is one of the most overlooked aspects of a backup, and just as important as the other steps. If you don’t know how to retrieve your files, your backup is worthless. You don’t want the first time you retrieve files to be when something has gone wrong. You want to be calm in the knowledge that you know the procedure inside and out, you know exactly where the drive/tape with the data is and can do the restore in your sleep.
Our suggestion is to set some time aside on a regular basis and do a test restore. Grab some individual files, or restore your computer to a test hard drive. See how it goes. Get comfortable with what you need to do. If you are comfortable with how to restore files you won’t be panicking about what to do when the time comes when you need to.
Be sure to test your backups BEFORE you need them. One idea to make sure you follow the three factors for a good backup procedure is to add a reoccurring event on your calendar to check your backups and test them.
If you do not want to worry about all this, and require the peace of mind your data and applications are safe and secure, our team of certified Apple consultants will make sure your company or departmental systems are backed up as part of our monthly on-site service contracts.