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Plan Ahead to Keep Your Data Safe

With summer in full swing, it’s time to think about the potential dangers summer storms can bring to your computer systems. While data loss can occur at any time, thunderstorms can bring a multitude of issues, including power outages, power surges, building fires, floods and even the occasional tornado that can strike at a moment’s notice. If one of these happens to you, do you have a plan in place to keep your data secure?

For most people, the answer is to simply back up your data to a secondary storage location. This storage can be a server drive, a portable hard drive, a USB thumb drive or even a CD/DVD. The important thing is that you have a second copy of your files somewhere other than your computer.

Once your backup location is established, determine how often you want to back up. A good rule of thumb is to decide how much work you are willing to lose and then back up accordingly. A starting point might be one-week intervals.

For servers and critical lab equipment, consider having them connected to uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units. These units are essentially a battery backup to continue providing power during brownouts and power outages. Make sure the UPS is powerful enough to do what you need as most units are intended to only provide power long enough to survive short-term power outages (less than 10 minutes) or safely power down equipment.

For critical data, it's a good idea to plan for the unimaginable. A backup drive next to your server works great if you need immediate data after the server stops working. But what happens if your office is hit by a natural disaster like a flood, fire or tornado?  If you have data that you cannot afford to lose under any circumstances, plan for off-site backups in addition to your regular backup method. An off-site backup can be as simple as a recent backup on SkyDrive or a portable hard drive that is taken home (or some other area away from the office). It also can be as involved as having a second copy of your data stored on another server located in a different building or town. The idea is to have a copy of the data in two different locations in case something happens.

While not all of these suggestions may apply to your situation, we hope that they will provide some food for thought and give you a starting point in evaluating your data backup needs.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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