May 24, 2007
Sean Lentner’s clients trust him with one of their most valuable assets — their data. As a computer consultant, Lentner knows that every other computer- related component of a business can be repaired or replaced if it fails or is destroyed. Data, however, when lost, is not easily recovered — if it can be recovered at all. That’s why he recommends that all clients have a reliable backup strategy in place. Lentner’s clients represent a diversity of industries: medical, financial, real estate, marketing, technology, and retail. Different clients have different backup requirements. Some must deal with compliance issues such as length of time data must be retained, audit trails of data access, or other data access restrictions, but the underlying basic tenet of backup protection is ensuring that whatever data the client deems important is secure and available to him if he experiences data loss or a disaster. Lentner said, “Every minute a business is down is costing that business money, so getting a business back up and running as promptly as possible is crucial. If the data is not backed up and ready for restore, that process is going to be slow and arduous — so slow that many businesses do not survive a catastrophic data loss.” Lentner’s approach is to make sure that doesn’t happen by incorporating online backup to protect client data. “After a catastrophe happens, it’s too late,” said Lentner, “so having a reliable backup system in place is vital. I recommend online backup as the best way for my clients to prevent catastrophic data loss.” Online backup works for small, mid-sized, and large clients and offers many advantages. One of things Lentner likes best about online backup is that once set up and configured, the backups run automatically. “Relying on someone to start the backup, change the tapes, or transport the backups off-site is fraught with risk,” said Lentner. He added, “Invariably, the one night someone forgets to transport the data off-site is the night when disaster strikes!”
According to Lentner, all online backup companies are not the same. “The Ôfree’ and almost free services work fine for a home user who only needs to restore a couple of files. These services do not work for business clients because support is almost non-existent, and, if you have data loss where the operating system is compromised or experience any other number of problems, expert assistance is critical.” Adds Lentner, “Backup providers are like insurance companies — you won’t know how good they are until disaster strikes.”
There are hundreds of online backup services. Here are some of the things Lentner looks for in a backup provider:
- Does the vendor have multiple locations? Backup companies are not immune from disaster, so it’s important that client data is simultaneously stored in two geographically distant locations.
- Who has access to the data? Many services say they encrypt data, but if they also say they can send you your password or reset it, then your data is not secure. If data security is an issue, look for a company that does not have access to your password. Ask what happens if a password is lost or forgotten. Your data is secure from prying eyes if the company tells you data cannot be restored or a complete data reseed with a new password is required if you lose your password.
- How do I know the backup ran successfully and is the report easily understood? No matter how “automatic” a backup service is, some oversight of the backup process is required. There must be a notification process in place, and the reports must be simple to comprehend. A tiered reporting process is ideal, so that if a notification does not elicit a response or action, another notification process is triggered. The best companies have multi-tiered notification and reporting systems to ensure clients are aware of problems or potential problems with their backups.
- Is it cost effective for my clients? Quality backup is not cheap, but even among the premier service providers there is a broad range of pricing and what is included in the cost. Beware of “hidden” costs. Some services charge extra for support, restores, account maintenance, and even temporary quota overages. As a rule, simpler pricing means fewer unpleasant surprises when your bill arrives.
- What is the level quality of the technical support provided? Is tech support provided by foreign call centers where the technicians are reading canned solutions or do you have access to expert backup specialists? When a company experiences catastrophic data loss, the two most critical elements are that support must be quick and it must be knowledgeable.
Lentner explains that even experienced computer professionals cannot keep up with all the constantly changing variables that cause problems with data backups and restores. That’s why Lentner relies on backup and restore specialists when problems are encountered during data backups and restores. For the past four years, Lentner has recommended Data Protection Services to his clients. “They’ve been in business since 1996, and I like the way they treat my clients. Whether big or small, my clients get personal service and expert support when they need it. Their quick response and knowledge level are, in my opinion, unequaled in the industry.” Best of all, adds Lentner, they make him look good when he is able to quickly restore data and get the company back to normal operations. Not only is that good for his clients’ business, it’s good for Lentner’s business, too!