Back Up Now or Be Sorry Later
Maintaining an up-to-date backup file can save your business
Data is a vital business asset, but also a fragile one. For instance, a hard drive crash, a virus or a natural disaster could instantly result in the loss of all your customer lists and financial records.
Unfortunately, most businesses don’t talk about making a backup copy of their business data until after such a disaster strikes. By then, it’s too late.
You can easily create a backup file so you can restore critical business information on your computers, but it requires planning and consistent effort. Here's what you need to do.
Decide What to Save
What you need to be concerned with is anything your business creates. This would include:
You may also want to save system configuration files and other settings files, such as your Internet bookmarks, but these are not as important as the other files.
Before going any further, make sure you have a list of folders that contain files you need to back up.
Using Backup Software
It is better to use backup software. One choice is the backup package that came with your operating system. Both Windows XP and Windows Small Business Server 2003 include tools for backing up. The backup tool that ships with Microsoft Windows XP Professional is already installed. (If you use Windows XP Home Edition, you will need to install it from the installation CD.)
To set up Windows Backup, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, then click Backup. Click Next to acknowledge the opening screen, then select Backup Files and Settings and click Next.
Windows Backup will now ask you which files you want it to save for you. You probably do not want to select All information on this computer as that will make copies of everything, including all of your program files. If you have installed a lot of software, you will end up with a huge backup file that is too large to save.
If everyone keeps all of their important files in their own My Documents folder, you can select Everyone’s documents and settings. Otherwise, you should select Let me choose what to backup and select every folder you identified as important. When you are done, click Next.
Windows Small Business Server 2003 also comes with a Backup Configuration Wizard that allows you to specify the folders you would like to copy, whether the backup should be saved to a hard drive or a tape drive and how frequently the backups should be performed. You can also use the tool to launch a backup manually.
Understand Your Storage Options
Another option is to save the backup somewhere on your network or onto a second hard drive in your computer. Just click Browse and select the location where you want to save the file. Give the file a descriptive name and click Next.
While this type of backup will give you some protection if a hard drive fails or if a virus strikes, in the event of a fire or natural disaster, you are likely to lose the entire computer — and therefore all of your data. For that reason, you should regularly copy your backup file onto a CD, DVD or external drive that you can store in a protected location far away from your place of business.
You will find the backup file in the folder you specified in Windows Backup. If the file is less than 640 megabytes, you can use a CD burner to save that file onto a standard CD-ROM. If it is larger, you will need to use DVDs. Make sure your burner is capable of writing to recordable DVDs.
You can also use reusable media, such as flash drives and external hard drives. Check the size of your backup file to determine how much storage space you will need.
More Backup Advice
Backups are great insurance against disaster and system failure, but this insurance policy is good only if you take the time to regularly back up your system.