December 3, 2021

Ten Top Tips for Data Backup and Recovery

 Release date: October 2003

Power cuts, terrorist attacks, burglaries, malicious staff and good old fashioned absent-mindedness...all good reasons why individuals and companies need a robust business continuity strategy should the worst happen.

Here then are ten tips - provided by business continuity experts DataFort ( - for creating a back-up and recovery strategy that will stand up to any disaster.

1: Believe it can happen

The word ‘unexpected’ exists to define something that actually happens. Data loss isn’t theoretical. Laptops and hand-held devices are usually the first things that disappear in a burglary and viruses that wipe hard drives really do exist. Don’t play the ‘it’ll never happen to me’ game, it’s too risky.

2: Audit your data

Whatever back-up solution you plum for, the size of the data and the cost of storage will be the two main considerations. Physical solutions have a finite capacity while hosted off-site services usually charge by the megabyte. Either way, prune your data, delete what you don’t need and only back-up files that you really can’t afford to lose.

3: Take data off-site

Whether you work in a big office or your own living room, business critical data must never be left on-site. Backing up data to a server or a CD-rom is all well and good if a single PC is stolen or fails, but if the building they’re in burns down, you may as well not have bothered.

4: Check back-ups regularly

Ever since the floppy disc was invented, computer users have come to expect recordable media to fail…except when it comes to backups. If you do use CD-roms, Zip and tape drives the mantra is check, check and check again that you can access and retrieve data. Companies that place real value on their digital information should NEVER rely on local physical storage.

5: Develop a routine

Humans are fallible, we forget things, especially important things like initiating a back-up, changing tapes, taking back-ups home etc. Make your back-up routine part of every-day IT housekeeping, stick a sign on the monitor, tie knots in a hankie, just don’t forget! If you are the kind of person that just can’t stick to a regime [and don’t worry you are not alone] look into outsourcing to an IT company that will manage your backups or look at one of the automated services.

6: Think about the recovery position

If the worst happens, what will you need to get up and running again quickly? PCs and phone lines can be begged and borrowed but what about your data? Opening e-mail archives on other machines usually entails entering passwords and login details, likewise for Internet/Intranet access etc. For large companies this isn’t so much of an issue, but for SMEs and home workers, this information is as priceless as the data itself.

7: Revisit regularly

Re-visit each step of your back-up and recovery procedure regularly. Make sure it does what you want it to do. For example, there’s a difference between fire-proof and heat-proof safes, and did you set up that new hard drive as part of the automatic back-up schedule? The business day is fluid and ever-changing, you need to be as well.

8: Do your sums

Data back-up and recovery used to be like an insurance policy – you got the same service whether you went expensive or cheap until a disaster happened. Today, business continuity embraces archiving and storage solutions, offering companies much more than just ‘safe’ data. All-in-one solutions (generally off-site storage and retrieval) are often more expensive to set up but, compared to the ongoing costs of consumables and existing archiving and storage solutions, they can often deliver better value for money both in terms of actual cost and quality of service.

9: Go for the best solution you can afford

Following on from above, don’t skimp on back-ups. Even home users who don’t want to lose priceless digital photos of the family should buy the best brand media if they back up to disc or tape. For SoHos and SMEs, look at all the solutions available, identify the best model that works for you and go for the best offering in that model, be it local D-I-Y back-up or a managed off-site service.


If you’ve taken the trouble to back-up data and routinely check it, then chances are you’ll be able to retrieve it when the unexpected happens. Obviously, if you’ve invested in a robust solution then you’ll have little or no trouble getting your data back, but even a scratched CD-ROM in a car glove box that can’t be read by your PC can be accessed – by the right people at the right price!

In this digital day and age, making sure our data is safe and secure is no longer a paranoid luxury, it’s a responsible – and soon to be legal – business process.

There are three types of data.

(1) Critical: Data, that should the worst happen, will be needed the next day to pick up the pieces. Anything you would need from your clients contact details so you can tell them that regardless of what they’ve heard on the news you are still there for them to accounts and invoice information needed for bridge financing. Insurance policy numbers and details, contact numbers for employees. EMAILS! The more timely this information is the better chance you have of recovering from the disaster. You will know what fits in this category for your business.

(2) Useful information: Information that can be gathered from other sources as time goes on, but if it is not available on the next day your business will not be impacted. What fits into this category varies greatly depending on the business type but supplier prices, advertising information.

(3) Transient or non critical information. This information is not critical to the running of the business. It may be convenient to have but if you lose it the company will not be any harder to run.


DataFort provides dependable secure off-site computer information storage with a focus on functionality and convenience for the end user. The company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Guildford, UK and New York, USA. It’s software and services are used by thousands of businesses worldwide - ranging from small SMEs and schools through to quoted companies and local government. Every hour of every day someone, somewhere backs up with DataFort.


Marcie Terman
T: +44 (0) 1483 872 052