Why do I need a backup of my data?

Posted on 2004-11-17
Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I know - dumb question. But a client of ours is saying exactly this. I want to pick your brains to come up with some good, real-world examples or reasons why data backup is very important. Currently we're just backing up to disk on the server using NT Backup, and the client claims that this is good enough for them. They claim that their data primarily resides on the client PCs and the server contains a backup copy of the important data from the PCs. Their thinking is that if we lose the data on the server, it can be restored from the client PCs.

I know this is not a good scenario and they should be backing up to tape or something similar because this is a legitimate company with legitimate critical data to protect. I'd like to help them look beyond simply making copies of their data to see the ramifications of not having a smooth restore procedure in place as well. Thanks for any input.
Question by:WineGeek
    LVL 18

    Accepted Solution

    A real world example that I witnessed first hand:

    A few years ago during my freshmen year at college...during the last week of classes...our college had a MAJOR fire which burned for over 24 hours and took out half a city block of buildings (the most historic part of our campus). This resulted in a nearly immediate end to the school year...including cancelling of final exams.  One of these buildings housed offices for professors from several departments. Of course their computers were lost in the well as many of their backups that they had made that they had sitting on their desk in their offices (ephasis on offsite storage).  But for these professors....they had a very limited time (with the abrupt end to the school year) to get student grades in...and at the same time having to deal with the complete loss of their office and personal belongings (some lost their thesis which they had no other copy, etc). As a result of many professors not having a strong disaster recovery plan in place....many of them had to resort to issuing pass/fail grades to students based on their memory of the semester and what little paperwork from the students they had stored elsewhere or had given back to the students.

    Now in a business setting....a weak disaster recovery plan in this situation could have had catasrphoic effects for the business. Server and Pcs are destroyed in fire and while dealing with the mental and emotional aspect of the have to get back up and running to prevent even more loss of profit.....what do you do now?

    Sadly, many people don't realize that backup of data is not the only part of a disaster recovery plan.
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    As they are doing ntbackup to a server, why don't you back up this server to tape?
    LVL 18

    Expert Comment

    Tape backups on the server are a very good idea. We use the very common GFS (grandfather father son) method....daily incremental backups to tape...on friday a weekly full backup, then the first day of the month a full backup. Daily tapes are reused each week...friday tapes are kept for a month and then re-used. Monthly tapes are stored off site for a year.

    Author Comment

    FYI - I need more replies like the first reply from luv2smile. I'm trying to "sell"our client on the idea of having a legitimate backup and recovery plan in place. This means that I need to make them very aware of what can go wrong, and how they could completely lose their business if they lose all their data. I'm hoping to hear from a few more people on this one before I close it and assign points. Thanks!
    LVL 4

    Assisted Solution

    Time is money.  Bottom Line.  It will take significantly less time to restore the data from a tape than it would from each clients PC.  During the time to copy the files (Could be GB worth of data) that is down time and lost revenue during the recovery process.  If you had tapes to restore from, the clients could continue to do thier job while a tape was restored to the server.  And who's to say that the data would be accurate?  They said it themselves:  "the server contains a backup copy of the important data from the PCs."  So after the client copies the data to the server and they delete it off their local drive, how do you recover that data?

    It's bad practice anyways to store all "Critical" data on a Workstation that has no redundancy or Fault Tolerance.  Servers are designed with aspects like RAID and Redundant Power Supplies to recover from scenarios such as a dead hard drive.  Workstations are not.  The question they need to ask is what is an acceptable amount of downtime?  How long can they afford a complete stop of their day to day production because their server died along with 4 of their workstations due to lightning hitting their builiding (Or any other non-predicatable disaster)?
    LVL 24

    Assisted Solution

    This is a little research that may open some eyes.  This is actually a compilation of information and links related to that compilation.

    If you could clarify how the PCs are copying data to the server, that may help.  Is it a batch script?  Can they verify that the server is just a repository for copied information?  Have they performed a DR scenario where data was rebuilt?

    I worked for a large mining company in WV.  We had a lightning strike hit an office building of a customer in Charleston.  It apparently came in through a network plotter that was plugged directly into the wall, ran through the CAT5 to the switch port.  It took out 13 ports, damaged 2 computers on active switch ports (they were on UPS devices and the network cable was wall to PC and not through the UPS).  The strike also fried a UPS that was on 220v, but it continued to run and provided battery just popped one of the fuses.  The client PC data was not recovered.  One of the servers that was not racked was fried as well.  The drive was sent to OnTrack.  For ~$2000 they recovered the data off the drive.  The platters were OK, but the surge nailed the backplane.

    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    my opinion is if you/they do not move the tapes to an offsite location, it won't help you very much if something bad hapens

    Author Comment

    I think I've got my answer - thanks everyone for your great input.

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