When it comes to backing up your business data for disaster recovery, using an external hard drive can be as tempting as hopping from one lily pad to another in your happy IT pond. After all, it seems simple, affordable and logical — plus it’s convenient because it’s right there next to the computer.
But it’s also a huge mistake! Here are three reasons why you should give your external hard drive the boot:
Reason # 1. In the same place as your computer.
Fire, theft, power outage, sprinkler system malfunction, catastrophic external event (tornado? terrorism?) or other disaster that affects your computers will also affect your external hard drives. Even if you keep the drives under desks or in your onsite data center, they’re still in the same location. To prepare for a disaster, your backup needs to be in an entirely different location, like the cloud or a central server in a secure colocated facility. The sad truth is that many businesses never recover from a major disaster. About 25% of small businesses go out of business immediately after a major disaster and up to 40% of businesses that face a major disaster eventually fail because of it.
Reason #2. It can get infected with malware.
As computing gets more sophisticated, so does malware. You may have awesome anti-virus protection on your computer that scans every new item but new strains of malware are designed to infect anything that’s connected to your computer — like your external hard drive. Few people disconnect external hard drives after backing up. Then when it’s time to use the backup, it can be infected or unusable and infect your backup (or replacement) equipment. USB flash drives are vulnerable, too, so backing up work-in-progress files can spread viruses from work computers to home computers (or vice versa).
Reason #3. Your backup software might not be backing up the right stuff.
Backing up all of your essential data in a way that allows you to use it if needed can be more complicated than it seems. In addition to the data files, you need copies of your software and other files deep within your system to make your backup operational. If you can’t use the backup to get work done, it’s not meeting your disaster recovery requirements! Workstation solutions like CrashPlan and Acronis for PCs and Time Machine for Apple computers protect against computer crashes which are no fun, but pale in comparison to what you need to recover in the event of actual disaster.
What exactly do you need? Every business is different so ask advice from an IT pro who’s familiar with your business and the latest, greatest disaster recovery and business continuity practices. That way you can keep on hopping even after something goes horribly wrong!
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