Smart Business spoke with Mike Landman, CEO of Ripple IT, about how business owners can ensure their company’s IT department is using the right backups.
Every business leader I talk to is certain their company has good backups. Well, pretty sure. Kind of sure? There's tapes, so there must be a backup, right?
When pressed, most business leaders find that they don’t really know the status of their backups.
I’ll grant you, backups are boring. Like insurance, flu shots and TPS reports. But once you’ve seen the face of someone that has lost their company data — or even thought they lost their data — the boredom ends quickly.
As a leader, you want to trust your IT guy, or your IT department, or your brother-in-law that handles your IT. They know technology, and this is their role. But there is a difference between delegation and abdication. And with backup, I think a leader needs to know what’s up.
Here’s a few things you should know to keep on top of data protection:
Backups fail. Every backup software can and does fail. More often than you might think. There are three things you can do about it:
1. At Ripple we decided that no single backup software is good enough to shoulder the responsibility for client backups. So we use two completely different software vendors and technologies for backup. The downside is, of course, that it costs more to implement and to manage. The upside is a nice reduction in risk of data loss from a failure or a software bug.
2. Get looped-in. Have a chat with IT, and get a report every day (just like they do) of the status of backup. If everything is OK, you have spent 30 seconds over coffee getting reassurance that your company is safe. If not, you can help out with some positive support.
3. Set the tone. Troubleshooting backup failures is difficult and time-consuming, and it often happens without management even knowing there was a failure, because IT is nervous to tell leadership. So they work on it silently. But now that you are looped-in, you can help. Let them know that you know software fails sometimes, and that it’s a top priority to you that they have the time to get it fixed. Then let the rest of the company know that regular support will be a little slower while IT works on an issue that’s important to the company’s security. Those words mean a lot more when they come from leadership rather than from IT, and you will buy your IT team time to fix the problem, rather than shelving it because of daily IT fires.
If your backup is not offsite, you are not safe. The kinds of events that require restoration from offsite are certainly more rare, but they are company killers if there’s no offsite backup. A fire, the cleaning crew sets off the sprinkler, natural disasters — they happen. This is what backup is for. The same day you ask IT to add you to the daily backup report, ask them how the company handles offsite backups. You might be surprised at the answer.
Some of your most valuable data is not on the server. The mantra of IT for as long as I can remember has been “if it’s not on the server, it’s not backed up.” While this has some measure of CYA for IT, it’s not a viable strategy. It makes your end-users (particularly your mobile ones) responsible for backups, and if you’re honest with yourself, you have probably had an important file (or 50) nowhere but your laptop. And if you’ve done it, you can bet every laptop user you have has done it too. Yes, there is an expense to backing up all of your laptops, but it’s nothing like the expense of watching your highest paid employees scramble to recreate a presentation after having their laptop die. Unless you enjoy saying “I told you so” more than you enjoy having crisp, timely presentations from your road warriors — backup your laptops.
Backup is important enough for leadership to pay attention to. Just like you don’t have to be an accountant to keep an eye on your company’s cash, you don’t have to be an IT guy to keep an eye on your data.
Mike Landman is the founder and CEO of Ripple IT, an IT company that makes IT run smoothly for companies with less than 100 employees.