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IT Backup - How Safe Is Your Business?

April 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 191

'999 Which Emergency Service Do You Require?'

A few weeks ago I was attending an early morning call at one of my customers. As I pulled onto the car park my eyes were drawn to blue flashing lights on the nearby industrial estate. Not being nosey you understand, I thought I would just have a look to see what was going on.

No Smoke Without Fire?

Although it was still fairly dark and difficult to see there was a high degree of activity by the fire crew and a fairly large group of onlookers were standing around. However, I could not see any smoke and guessed that whatever had brought the fire engines out had been dealt with earlier and they were winding down.

As I entered the main office door of the client I had come to see, I noticed lying on the mat a leaflet which I duly picked up to hand to the MD.

Fire Affects Local Business

The leaflet turned out to be from West Midlands Fire Service. The main part of the leaflet read as follows:

"The West Midlands Fire Service has recently attended a serious fire in this area.

How Safe Is Your Business?

Due to the nature of the incident a Fire Safety Officer may visit you to ensure your compliances with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

You may need to produce the following items to show compliance with the Fire Safety Order:

  • A copy of the emergency action plan for the premises;
  • Evidence of staff training and fire drills;
  • The most recent Service Certificate for the fire alarm system"

The Link

This leaflet, delivered in the wake of the fire, got me thinking along the lines of how safe your business is in the aftermath of fire (or any other catastrophe) in terms of your IT systems.

This is not the first time I have covered this subject, but this time I'm looking from a different perspective.

A Copy Of The Emergency Plan For The Premises

It occurs to me that most businesses have a plan of action when it comes to fire. In fact they may even carry out a fire drill on a regular basis just to make sure they are well rehearsed. Many buildings have one day a week when the alarm is simply tested for a short burst.

Emergency Plan In Action

Recently I was on site visiting one of my customers when the fire bell went off. There was the obligatory 'everyone looks at everyone else' and asks is this for real. I could see the grey cells at work 'is this the day they test the alarms? no... NO maybe for real then?'

Evidence Of Staff Training and Fire Drills;

After a short while someone called for everyone to vacant the building. We all duly assembled outside to the designated fire area. I noticed that at least one member of staff was wearing a yellow jacket with the words on the back 'Fire Marshall'! In his hands he had the signing-in book, and began calling out everyone's name. (Now I see the value of why companies have a sign-in book). The sight of one of the lads emerging from the building chewing on burned toast raised good humoured jeers and comments as to the culprit!

The point is, this company had an emergency action plan in the event of fire which worked. Can that be said of our computer systems?

The Most Recent Service Certificate For The Fire Alarm System;

Having a plan of action is one thing, evidence of training is another, but having a recent up-to-date certificate showing that the system is current and valid is something else entirely different again. Imagine the scenario where you have a procedure in place for fire, you rehearse for the real thing by testing the bell and occasionally filing outside. But what happens on the 'day of reckoning' if you grab the extinguisher and find the pressure is too low to be effective? Up to date certificates eliminate that issue.

I have heard, on a number of occasions, where companies carry out backups religiously. They change the backup tapes daily, check the log to see that the backup has completed successfully. However, come the 'day of judgement' - the tapes have an error and simply will not give back the data. No certificate!

If your business is like most businesses I know, backup is probably something you understand the importance of and practice on a daily basis. However, experience would lead me to believe that there is no formal plan in place of what to do in the event of serious data loss.

Backup IT Business Plan

Here are some of the things we think should be in your plan of action:
  1. If the main server is lost, stolen or damaged by fire, how long would it take to replace it?
    1. Do you know the specification of the server you would need?
    2. Do you have the driver disks?
    3. Do you know what programmes and versions are installed?
    4. Do you have the licence keys?
    5. What happens if the model of server lost is no longer available?
  2. Does your server have a warranty replacement policy?
  3. If a workstation went down could a user 'jump' on a spare machine, see their files and folders and go straight to work?
  4. Where is the latest backup kept?
  5. Do you have a 'certificate' that shows everything has been tested and is up to date?

The law requires that you have certain procedures in place to deal with the possible event of fire. The law also states that, [1]"You must safeguard your own or anyone else's data, by appropriate precautions against loss, corruption or unauthorized disclosure"

Data Statistics

Statistics show that in the event of a company not being able to recover from data loss [2]60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster. Further statistics show the following information:

  • [3]99% of all businesses do not do a daily backup
  • 60% of backups are incomplete
  • 50% of restores fail
  • Only 25% of backup tapes are stored off-site
  • End user compliance with backups is only 8%
  • 43% of companies that experience a severe data loss disaster, and that have no recovery plan in place, never re-open

Without scare mongering you are more likely to experience an issue requiring data recovery than you are with dealing with a real fire.

For further information about Back Ups please visit my website at


[1]Data Protection Act 1998



If you would like more help or information about this article or the author Steve R Bryan then please visit the Bryan's Data Programming Website at Here you can also download for free Steve's monthly newsletter packed full of information, help and advice about the world of Computing.

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

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Midlands Fire


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