Where Is Your Data? Use Our Free LAN Discovery Tool To Find Out
It is essential that you prepare for a backup plan properly in preparation to utilize advanced backup solutions. The larger your network, the more chance that you have files stored in all manner of places. These files could be very important for your business and it is vital that you identify them.
What is your backup policy?
If you do not have a backup policy then you need to create one. This will ensure that you secure your essential data and save your time and money by making sure that you meet your organization’s requirements in the most efficient manner. Data recovery will be smoother if there are failures such as a natural disaster, hard drive failure or virus problems.
All organizations are going to have different requirements for their backup policy. But there are some common factors that all organizations need to consider:
Decide on which files you need to back up
Ask yourself the question “what files are essential for your business that you simply cannot afford to lose?” Also consider which files you need for daily use in the running of your business.
Your most important files are likely to include sales and marketing information, financial data, records of personnel, tax information and information about property. You can discuss the most important files with the individual departments concerned.
Whom will you allow to access backups?
You will want to limit the number of people that can access your backups for security reasons. There needs to be at least one person responsible for backup and recovery. They will operate the backups, check the integrity of the backed up data and be able to perform a data recovery whenever this is necessary.
How often do you want to create backups?
Your preferred backup schedule must be part of your backup policy. Deciding on your backup schedule will depend on how your business operates and the importance of your data. If you have important databases then these may need backing up more often than other files. You need to also decide the time of the backup with the aim of minimizing disruption.
Decide on the type of backups you require
There are three main backup types that you need to choose from which are full backups, incremental backups and differential backups. With a full backup you will make a complete copy of your chosen data to secure backup storage. This will take the longest time and will consume the most space.
With incremental backups, there are copies made of data that has changed since the last backup. This is the least time consuming of the backup types. Differential backups identify changed files and new files since the previous full backup. A faster restore time is achievable but it does require more storage space.
There may be some special requirements as well. You may need a Windows Server backup service for example or other advanced backup solutions. What is really important is that you identify all of your critical files and ensure that they are included in regular backups.
Performing a manual backup assessment
Identifying where your important files are on a business network is a time consuming process but something that is important to perform as you do not want to miss anything. The amount of time and effort that you will need to spend on this task is totally dependent upon the size and complexity of your network.
You can make the process a lot easier by asking certain questions of your IT department and any other people that have an interest in the company backup and restore process. You need to identify where all the important data is and then include it in the regular backups.
What is the current backup process?
It is unlikely that your enterprise will not have some form of backup process in place at the moment. You need to identify what this is and the files involved. When you do this it will go a long way to identifying the important files that require backup.
What software is used to perform backups?
There are many backup software solutions available and you need to identify the current software used for backups. If this software is old then it might not be fully meeting the backup requirements of your organization.
If you take a good look at the software it will tell you the file locations of the data that it backs up. This will be a big help in finding the files that require backup. You can create a list from most software backup solutions, and then check with the relevant departments to see if the files selected are still required for backup.
Backups performed using special hardware?
If your enterprise performs onsite backups then they will probably be using special hardware to do this. Tape media and CD media are fairly outdated now, and if these exist then it will be time for a rethink to a more secure backup storage solution.
What enterprise offsite backup solutions are in place?
Most organizations will have an enterprise offsite backup arrangement. At the most basic level this can be that someone takes home the backup media and stores it safely. The company may have online storage facilities and use professional cloud backup services.
Whatever the offsite backup arrangements that are currently in place, you will need to review if these are sufficient enough to meet the current needs of your organization. Relying on human intervention in taking copies of backup media home or to another location is dangerous, as mistakes are possible and you may find that the latest version of the backup is not stored offsite.
What are your critical applications?
Every enterprise will have mission critical systems that require back up. The obvious ones are payroll and accounting systems, but it is also likely that there are a number of operational systems including sales and service databases.
Talk to all of the departments to identify these systems. It may be possible that there is a new system that is not part of the current backup plan. Operational departments rely on these systems and it is crucial that proper backups take place.
Who is currently responsible for backups?
Do not just assume that the IT department is responsible for backup and restore operations. There may be other people involved. Someone should be ensuring that media is changed when necessary and to ensure that backup logs are monitored.
Talk to these individuals as they are likely to have a lot of knowledge about the files included in the backup operation. If something goes wrong with the backups or restores then who will take responsibility and fix the problem?
Are there any current backup problems?
Find out if there are any problems with the backup and restore setup at the moment. If there are problems then identify the best way to fix them. It may be that a new backup system is required to overcome the issues.
Server or workstation backups?
Does the current backup plan only include servers? Is there a Windows Server backup service in place? Are workstations involved in the current backup plan? If it is policy to backup workstations what files are involved? Are there non Windows servers backed up such as UNIX and Linux?
Files stored on workstations?
Even if your company has a policy of storing all important data on servers it is likely that workstation users will still store files locally. Talk to workstation users and find out if this is happening in your organization.
Does a secondary backup exist?
Some enterprises will be running secondary backups that use hardware and software that are different to the primary backup solution. There may be external hard drives, using an online backup service and so on.
Does the organization test restores regularly?
Does your company’s backup plan include the testing of restores? If so when was the last restore tested and what were the results? Are there tests such as restoring a folder or file and measuring how long the process takes?
Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
Has your enterprise decided on a recovery time objective (RTO)? You need to determine how long your organization can handle being down. Is it a single hour, a single day or a week if you suffer from a catastrophic failure?
When you decide on the RTO this will dictate the amount of time that is available to restore your organization to at least a partially working situation. If you have a lot of data to restore then identify those mission critical files and ensure these have priority.
Storage Guardian’s LAN Discovery Tool will save you a huge amount of time
Conducting a manual backup assessment can take a huge amount of time and of course there is always the chance of human error meaning that you will miss some important files. There is a way that you can identify all of the files on your network in a lot less time.
The Storage Guardian LAN Discovery Tool will assist you to identify the types of file and the volume of data that exists on your enterprise network. Once the tool has provided you with the information that you need, you can then plan for the best backup plan that takes into account data value and what it will cost to protect it.
Important Reports from the LAN Discovery Tool
There are a whole host of reports that the LAN Discovery Tool can produce. There are reports that can tell you about share usage and the largest files that exist on your network. There is also a report for duplicate files regardless of where they are stored.
One of the most useful reports is file ownership. This will tell you who owns specific files. There are also reports available for file type distribution, partition sizes, dormant files, modified files and growth, SQL Server sizes and Exchange Server sizes.
Assist you in identifying specific data for protection
One of the biggest challenges of a data backup assessment is identifying the type of files and the volume of data that exists on your network. This is essential because you need to decide on what data you need to backup.
There will be critical data that has a low RTO. Consider backing up this data using a reputable cloud backup service for secure backup storage. This will provide a faster restore than using other backup methods.
For older important data you will probably want to use archive backups for the longer term. When you deploy the LAN Discovery Tool it will be easy for you to identify and categorize the data types that are on your corporate network. This will enable you to plan for data backup that is more effective.
Keep your network files optimized
You can run the LAN Discovery Tool on an ongoing basis which is useful for you to measure the growth of your enterprise data. This will allow you to review your backup strategy and make changes so that you end up with fully optimized backups.
When you start to use the cloud backup and recovery service from Storage Guardian you will have access to the LAN Discovery Tool, and you can use it whenever you want to ensure that you continually optimize your backups.
How to use the Storage Guardian LAN Discovery Tool
When you are going to use the Storage Guardian cloud backup service for the first time you should run the LAN Discovery Tool on your enterprise network and critically examine the reports that it produces.
Take a good look at the reports and see if there is data that you can back up using a less expensive form of secure backup storage. You may discover that you have a large amount of duplicate data that is currently part of the backup plan. By eradicating this duplication you can save significantly on backup costs.
The reports from the LAN Discovery Tool will assist you to group your data into the right categories. Some data will be more important and will require more frequent backups. You will be able to create backup sets so that you can be certain that all of your data has the most appropriate level of protection.
After you have optimized your data backups and started to use the Storage Guardian cloud backup service you can run the LAN Discovery Tool again to identify your data growth. When you know your data growth you can arrange for the correct amount of secure backup storage space is available.
The Storage Guardian LAN Discovery Tool is the perfect answer for backup assessments. It will save you a great deal of time and effort in identifying the files that are crucial and need to be part of your backup plan.
You can find out more about Storage Guardian’s professional cloud backup services and the LAN Discovery Tool here.