1. Fail to win management support
If you’re a sole proprietor, then you’re the management, so you don’t have to make a case to your boss. But you have to make a commitment to creating and following a backup and recovery plan.
2. Provide no risk assessment.
You could hire a risk management specialist for this, but the real issue is: which data is critical to running your business? Do you need to back up all the files on all your computers, or are there only certain documents which you have to protect? Also, how much down time can you afford? Do you have time to reinstall your operating system and software, or do you need to be able to restore your computers to their previous state within an hour?
3. No written plan
It might seem silly to write out policies and procedures if you’re a one-person business, but there are good reasons to do so. Not only does it make things clearer for you, but it gives you the chance to pass the job onto someone else–a good idea for any administrative-type tasks.
4. Lack of backup integrity
That means not checking to see whether you can actually restore from your backups. Some backup software has a “verify” option, but it’s good to spot-check and make sure you can restore your files. Check your media, as well: is there a scratch on that CD? Did the tape get twisted?
5. Self-defeating data storage practices
This is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t issue: the two problems are keeping your critical data in the same location as your computer and storing it too far away for a quick restoration. Online backup providers promise a solution to this problem. Another alternative is making two copies: one to keep on site, another to send offsite.
6. No plan for backup power
If you’re a small or home-based business, you probably aren’t going to invest in a generator, but it’s worth making sure you have Uninterrupted Power Supplies for all your computer equipment. The battery backup kind that provides you with five minutes in which to shut down safely is definitely within a SOHO budget. The UPS also acts as a surge protector.
7. No alternate facility
This is a disaster preparedness issue: if you have to evacuate your home or office, where will you go? For a home office, one of those Extended Stay America suites seems like a good option. They’ve made an effort to help in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, so there’s a good chance of getting a price break and other help in the natural disaster coming soon to a location near you.
8. No plan for communications
How will you reach your staff–or your clients–if your computer crashes, taking with it your contact database? What about the phone lines going down? You may not be able to cover every possible contingency, but it’s worth thinking about the most likely ones. It’s also important to keep a local copy of any database on your web server or e-commerce server, in case they’re subjected to a natural disaster or a serious hardware failure.
9. Not having the required computer and networking devices
That means not having something to restore your data to if your computer burns up or floats away. Having more than one computer which can run your critical data and programs covers you in the event you have to wait days or weeks for your main machine to be repaired. Buying a second machine, particularly a used one, could be more cost-effective than renting one for any length of time, but it’s good to know where you can rent a computer if you have to. And if your backups are the kind that require the same hardware specs to restore properly, you’d better make sure you have those specs written down so you can get the right equipment.
10. No dry run
Okay, I have to admit I’m unlikely to do a dry run of every aspect of my plan, but at the very least I should practice throwing my laptop and XHDs into a bag in less than 5 minutes. I’ve already tested the basic restore process from my Ghost images, and know that it works and how long it takes (and how long it takes to reinstall from scratch, which is to say, longer than I want to spend if my machine has gone down in the middle of an important project). And I should make sure I have my insurance agent’s number in my cell phone and in my wallet. (I’m all but surgically attached to my handbag, and unlikely to be without it anywhere.)
The real worst practice for backup and recovery is not making backups at all, but it’s worth reading these two articles and coming up with a plan to cover as many contingencies as you can think of.
If you have “worst practice” stories or best practice suggestions for small and home offices, post them as comments.