Backups. More Important Than You Think

March 20, 2024
Backups. More Important Than You Think

No one ever thinks backups are important until they really need one.

Certainly, in the very beginnings of my business, I didn’t actually pay that much attention to my backups. I did have a backup in place, a tape backup. And I just threw that tape in and hit the backup button on my backup software and said done. And then one day my hard drive died and I needed to restore my computer from backup onto the new drive. At which point I discovered that my backups had not actually been working for the last six months. Luckily, I was able to recover most of my work. But 6 months of my email disappeared forever.

This was the point at which my then boyfriend, now husband, Trever, took over my backups. Trever’s a network and systems administrator and he taught me that most important backup lesson:

Unless you actually practice restoring from your backups you do NOT have a backup.

Today I have three levels of backups. First, I save most of my work to cloud storage. These are places on my drive which are mirrored to the cloud. Now this is good, but it’s only one level of backup. And we need to remember that “the cloud” is simply someone else’s computer. My second level of backup is a TimeMachine drive that I have attached to my MacBook Pro, when it is plugged in at my desk. TimeMachine keeps a full backup plus incremental changes. Incremental backups are very handy in case you make a serious mistake and want to just go back to where you were. Maybe yesterday. One of the things I dislike about TimeMachine, and I only discovered after another drive failure, is that a full-system restore is an 8-12 hour process. And I’ve also had a TimeMachine backup go bad, where my computer suddenly decides it’s corrupted and unusable. Between these two issues, I don’t really have full confidence in TimeMachine as my “full system” backup. So my third level of backup is a complete drive clone, using an application called SuperDuper (this is for Mac, on Windows I’d use Carbon Copy or something similar). SuperDuper is scheduled to update weekly. So my worst case at this point is that I might lose up to a week of work, if 2 out of 3 of my backup solutions fail. I’m pretty comfortable that. And I test it occasionally just to be certain.

Backups are often ignored by people who are just trying to throw together their minimum viable product and get it out the door. Unfortunately you never know how much you need that backup until you really screw up. That’s when you find out if your business is absolutely destroyed unless you had everything backed up. There’s nothing quite like the heart-stopper excitement of deleting your production database. This is something that can unfortunately happen all too easily. So if your app depends upon a backend and that backend stores data somewhere…

Do you have a backup? Have you tested that backup? Can it be restored?

If these questions make you nervous, I’d be happy meet with you to discuss where you might be vulnerable, and what you can do to ensure your business carries on, even if something bad happens to your data. Book a consultation with me!