Recovering From A Computer Disaster

No one wants to think about it.  It’s just too horrible to consider.  But somewhere in your computer time line, you are going to have to deal with a disaster.

When you hear the word “disaster”, most people think of natural events, like tornadoes, fires and floods.  These qualify to be sure.  But in the data world, there are a whole lot more ways for disasters to occur.  And most of these are silent.

Take for example this scenario:  you have a network with a server and a few workstations.  Your main program is used to keep track of customers and their orders, payments, etc.  Your staff relies on this program to do their work.  And you rely on it to create invoices and collect.

All is well on Monday.  Same for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  On Friday though, an employee comes up to tell you that they are having trouble with the Acme Company’s account.  It is not showing any activity this week and you know that is not correct.  What the heck?  None of the other accounts have this problem – as far as you know.  What happened?

What you didn’t know was that on Tuesday there was a hardware error in your server.  This error caused a small section of your account data to be corrupted (a fancy word for screwed up).  The rest of the file is fine, so no one reported any issues.  In fact, the rest of the files on the server are fine, too.  Maybe.

Here’s the disaster part: your backups run every night.  You have a backup of the file that was made Thursday night.  It’s a perfect backup, no errors found.  But the data was damaged on Tuesday.  So guess what?  Your backup is useless since it has bad data, too.  You have no way to recover that data.

A disaster.

Taking daily backups would have handled this problem easily.  A backup taken on each day of the week and kept separate would allow you to recover data back a few days.  Disaster averted.

Here’s another possibility: you have been using the same program to run your business for years.  In fact, this program is so good you haven’t changed it since 1995.  Things are great, right?

But now your server has gone down and you are rebuilding it.  So far, so good. You have the original discs used to install that program, so you think it will be fine.  But what you don’t have are any of the updates that have happened in the years you’ve been using it.  And the company that wrote the software no longer supports it.  Your only recourse it to update to their latest version and convert your data.  The company is happy to do this for you.  It will take about 2 weeks and cost about $15,000, payable in advance.


A full disaster recovery backup would have prevented this.  One that lets you rebuild your system completely.

Are you getting the idea?  The common prevention is to have backups.  Not just any backup, but the right types.  And they have to be monitored and tested so you know they will be available when you need them most.

It doesn’t matter if your business has 200 employees or just 2.  The issues are the same.

So how do you deal with disasters?  You have a good backup plan in place that covers all of the scenarios that would hurt your business.

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