Sunday, 28 October 2018

Back up your office PCs

Would your business survive if you suddenly lost all of your desktop computers? How would your business cope if you lost your accounting data and client records? Could you recreate your design documentation and suppliers lists?

There's many ways you can suddenly lose your desktop computers and PC Servers. It might be a power surge at the worst possible moment. You might arrive in the morning to find a break-in had occurred overnight and your PCs are missing or destroyed. In these days of Internet threats, you might find your hard disk contents have been irretrievably scrambled without any warning.

The point is that total data loss  of computer records can and does happen without any warning. If you are sensible, you'll have procedures in place, and tested, to help you recover from such a loss. Those data back-up procedures should be automatic and not rely on human memory to be performed. In legacy computer set ups, this would often take the form of a magnetic tape drive which copies important data files  from the hard disks every day, or maybe once a week. The magnetic tapes can then be stored in a safe location, to be retrieved if you need to recover data. The bad news is that magnetic tape back-up is not always reliable when you try to retrieve the stored data, and on top of that it can take hours  to read serially through tape to find the piece of data you need urgently.

With faster Internet links and the establishment of Cloud Computing there is an alternate approach to maintaining back-up copies of your desktop and server PCs. It is possible to rent disk storage space from the likes of Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Google running on their secure central server farms. You can have programs running in the background on your PCs and servers to perform the back up process. When you need to recover one or more data files, it is possible to retrieve them via an internet link. So if your premises have been trashed, flooded, burnt out; it is a relatively straight forward job to reconstruct your services in an alternate location(s), provided it has a good Internet link. If you use the right software tools the regular back-up process is reliable and unobtrusive without the need for constant operator intervention.

After some experimentation with Dropbox and SugarSync, we have settled on the use of Amazon AWS data storage with a Cloudberry Labs front end software to simplify the industrial strength Amazon interface. We'll cover more on this in a later article.