Data Backup Policy
We need to produce a data backup policy and a disaster recovery plan, for a government finance department. We have around 20 staff spread over 5 offices, using a mixture of desktops and laptops (both PCs and Macs). Our accounting system is currently backed up using tapes, but we have no policy for keeping the tapes offsite, or for backing up other types of data. We have no plan for what we would do in the event of a disaster (fire, flood, theft, deterioration in security situation, data corruption etc).
Do you know where I can get a template for these documents?
The fact that finance data is being backed up is good news. The rest appears fairly sporadic.
Before looking into disaster recovery or business continuity, it’s essential to deal with the issue of day to day file storage. It appears to me that there is no centralised method of storing data. This needs to be done first.
The way ahead is to have a centralised server where data can be stored. Security can be set in such a way that data can be segregated by department (i.e. Finance can not access patient medical records etc).
With a centralised system in place, you will need to encourage all staff to store data on the server and not on the workstations. With all data in one place, you just need to back up the data from the file server and I would suggest that this is done each night. Of course you will need to ensure overnight power so that this can happen.
Regarding media, I would consider moving away from tapes as they are expensive. A 750GB unit costs £90. 3 or four of these will allow you to back up data on a daily basis.
For disaster recovery, it would be a good idea to keep one drive offsite and swap drives around on a regular basis so that the off site data is not out of date. Given that we are talking about a ministry here, offsite means another building. So this should not be a big task.
Restoring data from an external hard disk is more reliable that tape. It has been known for tapes to fail when used in a different machine than the one which was used to record the data in the first place. The common cause is head misalignment. With external drives, the process is easy as you just plug the disk into the HD and data can be extracted using the backup software such as Veritas.
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