Notice I did not say backup. Most have a fine backup. They can restore a file. Given enough effort, they can restore a database. But they can't recover a client's entire system in a true disaster.
Approximately every seven seconds I hear about another offsite backup strategy.
I know LOTS of people are making a lot of money off of them.
There are a few really great ones out there. But I believe that roughly 99.999% of all "internet backups" are bullshit, useless, and worse.
I am particularly offended by people who spread the bald faced lie that tape backups don't work. I believe that incompetent technicians can't figure out tape backups. They still can't figure out SCSI. But that's not really an indictment against tape. It's an indictment of the incompetent technicians.
When I look at a backup system, I can't help myself: I think about disaster recovery.
Now, I fully admit that we do backups for many different reasons. We need an "ultimate" disaster recovery system. We need a file restore. We need to archive data.
At the end of the day, 99.999% of all online backup services amount to file recovery. When you start to talk disaster recover, they hem and haw and talk about one of two scenarios:
1) Well, you're not going to backup EVERYTHING. This is just for the important data. That means (for example) 5 GB for data, 10GB for line of business DB, and 20GB for Exchange database.
2) Ship us a drive. We're all comfortable that FedEx will never lose anything, and no one is willing to take the time to break the encryption.
In scenario #1: I have zero clients that fit into that category. We have 5-attorney offices who are grateful for a little leeway on a 72GB Exchange database.
The concept that you will only back up the "critical" data and not the operating system is absurd beyond words. Isn't the operating system with all the security information, ACL's and SIDs important? Are you going to put in CD#1 and rebuild from scratch while you wait a week to download the critical data?
I'm sorry: What business can even stay in business while your awesome internet-based backup system has them totally OFFLINE for a week?
If a client has a full T1 and can download about 1.1 GB per 1.5 hours, and if they have a very realistic 50 GB of data, then the math is real simple: It will take three days to restore their critical data AFTER you totally rebuild the server from scratch.
Remember: You're not uploading a working image. You've picked and chosen exactly the number of GBs the client is willing to pay for.
Conclusion: disaster recovery is unrealistic under these circumstances. This is an elaborate scheme to make sure file recovery can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame.
Scenario #2 is "ship a drive." WHAT? You've got a flood or a fire and the answer to getting the client back into business is to ship a drive? Under absolute best circumstances, with maximum expenditure of money, that's a 24 hour process. And in a perfect world, that's a drive with all the deltas since the drive was new.
But it's still 24 hours until you can start recovering the data.
Imaging is another option. If you can get a real time image up to the cloud, that's great. But what actually happens in a disaster?
I don't mean a fan goes out or a drive fails. I mean a disaster: The electricity is out for a week; flood; fire; earthquake; tornado; haz mat spill; etc.
In a true disaster, you do not have access to the building with the server. You need to get the client back in business. Exactly what do you plan to do with that SBS Server that's booted up somewhere on the internet?
Think about your average client. Have you done them any good?
Will you get them back in business in less than a week?
As I said, many people get defensive about this topic. But I believe you need to take a serious look at exactly what you would do if one of your client's buildings burned down today. Today. This morning. First thing.
Do you have a checklist?
Who calls who? Who initiates the recovery? What do you do for hardware? What do you do for communication? What is your realistic time frame to get them operational and making money again? And what's the time frame for completing a total recovery with all systems replaced and up online as they should be?
If you say "we backup 25 GB of the most important data to the cloud," then your client needs to 1) Slap you, and 2) Fire you today.
At KPEnterprises, Backup and Disaster Recovery are absolutely the highest priority. Even though we spend 99% of our time on other things, Backup and Disaster Recovery always come first. The client might be focused on opening word files and having one less spam per day. But none of that makes any difference if we can't get them back in business when the unexpected happens.
In fifteen years, no client of ours has ever lost any data.
We've seen fires, floods, theft, and employee sabotage.
- - - - -
At the end of the day, there is a place for an internet-based backup system. But you need to pick yours very carefully. The crap that's advertised on Leo Laport and Kim Kommando are fine for grandmas and people who don't rely on their data to make a living.
But don't kid yourself that the tool you've chosen is any better.
Start your checklist:
Step One: Fire Destroys the building
Step Two: . . . what do you do?
Please take this very seriously. Do you have a whiz-bang system that really amounts to fancy file recovery?
Or do you have a disaster recovery system?
I'm afraid that one day something will happen in our business and hundreds of SMB business recovery plans will be put to the test at the same time. And, unfortunately, I'm very confident that most of them fail miserably. Most of the systems will get back up eventually, but they won't be up in a timely manner and the owners will lose a lot more money that they should have.
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