Work smarter and save money: 4 key tools

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Work smarter and save money: 4 key tools
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The "secret" to protecting your data from a disaster

What is the daily cost to your business if your server or network went down? Jamie Warner from eNerds identifies a big money saver.

As the CEO of eNerds, a Sydney based outsourced IT Support company, I’m always staggered at the lack of understanding about how to effectively plan for technology disasters. It demonstrates that most small businesses either don't understand the enormous cost and stress associated with technology downtime or they put it in the insurance bucket as something that rarely happens.
Well technology downtime does happen, as some readers effected by the recent Brisbane floods may attest, and there is a real cost to business which can be avoided.

Saving you money and peace of mind

To demystify the concept of a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) and a BCP (Business Continuity Plan), I would like to share a secret for technology disaster preparedness to save you money and most importantly give you peace of mind.
DRP and BCP are terms used by mid to enterprise businesses to define the set of procedures and processes the business will take in the event of disaster. So if anyone ever asks what your DR plan is, it's basically your strategy to get your business up and running if you experience downtime caused by; data corruption, system failure, fire, flood, theft etc.

Dos and Don’ts

So what do most small businesses do in relation to planning for a technology disaster? 
Some employ the trade mark Aussie approach of 'she'll be right mate' which, whilst positive in outlook, is probably not conducive to a positive outcome.
The next popular strategy is to implement a backup solution. There are many alternatives suiting all budgets but indeed some are more reliable and effective than others. 
  • Firstly, many small businesses backup to a USB portable hard drive or NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.  This approach is very entry level and does give a level of backup, but without a reliable software system to manage the process it isn't going to deliver true peace of mind.  Also, backing up to disk is fine if you have an appliance like a NAS with multiple drives using RAID redundancy, but if it’s an external USB drive it is worrying. The most common IT components to fail are those with moving parts such as Hard Drives and Power Supplies, so can you honestly put all your eggs in ‘a one drive’ basket?
  • Secondly, one of the most popular methods for backup is a Tape Drive which uses large cassette tapes.  Now this sounds like old technology, however, there are many reasons for its popularity.  The tapes themselves are more reliable than hard drives since they have less moving parts.  They are also more affordable and significantly more portable for off-site backup and archiving.  Tape drives can also store a large amount of data per tape with the new LTO5 technology holding up to 1.5 terabytes of uncompressed data.  
The biggest benefit is that they work in conjunction with popular backup software such as Symantec Backup Exec.  This means backup procedures are scheduled, monitored and can be managed easily to ensure your data is safe.
You can have backup data retention schedules which go back one month or years with more tapes.  However, Tape Drives can be expensive ranging from $2500.00 – $5000.00, but are a great investment.
  • Finally, on-line data backup & the ‘cloud’ are becoming more popular with small businesses.  You can find a provider to backup your data over the Internet or you can use services such as DropBox or Alternatively, you can take your business to the Cloud using Google, Office365 or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). PaaS delivers your Cloud solution via CITRIX and enables you to have your data, email and unique applications hosted.

The big time and money saver

However, none of these are the secret you should know about!
The secret is one of the most revolutionary products for disaster preparedness, it gives you faster recovery times from data loss & system failure and is something that most small businesses, not using the cloud, should be using.
So what is the secret?
Disaster recovery (DR) imaging software!  
DR Imaging is the next evolution in data backup and systems redundancy and the most popular products are ShadowProtect by StorageCraft and Symantec System Recovery.  
DR Imaging takes a full snap shot, (data, systems & applications – everything!), of your Server, PC or Laptop and then updates the ‘image’ incrementally to an external storage device right down to 15 minute intervals.  This means that you have a 15 minute window to retrieve lost or deleted files.  Remember, with Tape Drives or USB Drives they run nightly, so the window of losing data is quite large.
The amazing thing about DR Software is how much time and therefore money you save when disaster strikes.  
If your Server fails, DR Imaging enables you to ‘mount’ the image to another Server, Desktop or Laptop and get your business operational within minutes or hours.  If you only backup data, this may be safe, but how do you quickly re-load your Server, the applications, the users and get back to where you were before? DR Imaging is fast and it’s not just about data, you can restore corrupted hard drive partitions and even virtual servers with ease.
The best part is that the software is affordable at around $1000; however, you should also use a NAS with multiple redundant hard drives as the DR image repository.
To summarise, when you choose a backup solution for your business, DR Imaging should be the first solution picked every time. You could then combine it with a Tape Drive as an additional off-site backup solution.
So now you know the ‘imaging’ secret, have a think about the cost of downtime for your business and ask yourself, or your IT provider, whether you currently have the right backup solution to provide technology peace of mind.


Jamie Warner established eNerds in 2000 aged 22, to reinvent and improve the way IT services were being delivered to SMBs. His vision is to become the most well recognised brand in Australia for providing innovative IT services to SMBs. Under his leadership the company was listed in the BRW Fast 100 in 2008 & 2009 and the CRN Fast 50 in 2009-2011.



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