Top tips for data back-up and how to recover when disaster strikes

Data backup

It’s happened to everyone. You are right in the middle of working on something very important on your computer, you haven’t hit ‘save’ yet, and the computer just powers off for some inexplicable reason and now it won’t turn back on.  It’s Murphy’s Law; anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.  Not this time Murphy!  Thankfully, you have most of the work saved on a USB stick and you’ll be able to retrieve that work instead of starting over completely.

Data backup procedures are essential in protecting your data and software and help facilitate a rapid recovery from an emergency. Remember IS Services only backs up certain critical systems, backing up your data is your responsibility. This is why we have put together a few recommendations that will help you backup your own data routinely:

  1. Identify important data – This includes Microsoft Word and Excel files, any databases held locally on your machine and don’t forget your email. If you use an email client like Outlook then all you email is downloaded and held in a folder on your computer.
  2. Select an appropriate Backup Media –This could be a USB stick, a DVD, a portable external hard drive, or even storage in the Cloud, or any number or combination of these options.
  3. Label your backups – Keep a record of what has been backed up.
  4. Make multiple backups of important data – Make multiple copies of important data from different time intervals e.g. a backup from one day ago, a backup from one week ago and a backup from one month ago.
  5. Finally, make sure to store your backup media safely & test your backup!


Planning for disaster recovery

Always be prepared for the worst-case scenario.  When you are prepared, you’ll find the road to recovery that much easier.

Beyond simple data recovery, you will also need to plan for any IT needs unique to your set-up, for example, re-licensing software where the license was associated explicitly with the previous computer.

Here’s a helpful checklist when devising your backup strategy:

  • Are all data, operating systems and utility files adequately and systematically backed up? (Ensure this includes all patches, fixes and updates)
  • Are there adequate records of what is backed up and to where?
  • Are there records of the licensed software?
  • Are copies of the media and records stored remotely and safely?
  • Have you tested the backup to make sure it works?
  • Can any new hardware read the backup media?
  • Will the software license run on the new hardware?
  • Has a disaster recovery exercise been practiced successfully?


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