To make sure you have an effective data backup and recovery system, you'll need to plan in detail for disaster recovery, make sure that all your employees are fully aware of the effort to back up files to prevent data loss as much as possible, and test to make sure that your data backup method is meeting your needs.

Determine How Data Will Be Restored in the Event of a Failure or Loss
You'll need to make a plan that details the first steps to take when an emergency/data loss situation occurs. You'll need to plan for each possible type of disaster and how you would recover from it. You'll also need to decide who is responsible for restoring files and which files have highest priority, and have a communication plan to keep everyone apprised of the restoration process.

You'll also need policies for handling customers and press inquiries and outline a manual system (such as forms for taking customer orders over the phone) for continuing business during backup and recovery.

Prepare your employees for data backup. You'll need to educate your employees about where to store their files (in a specific directory on their PC that is backed up or on the central server) so that all files are included in the backup. You'll also want to avoid data loss and downtime by installing antivirus software and teaching your employees how viruses are spread and how to avoid them.

Prepare your employees for disaster recovery. Involving employees in the disaster recovery effort will also help ensure that recovery procedures are well planned and executed based on business need to provide as seamless a recovery as possible. Find out from employees typical processes and turnaround times that customers have come to expect, and plan how you will prioritize recovery efforts. Make sure all employees know whom to contact in an emergency, and outline what they can do to remain productive during the recovery period. If you're using a service, identify who in the company will contact the service to initiate recovery efforts. Make sure you have the contact information off-site in case of a fire, flood, or other act of nature.

Test Your Backups and Your Recovery Process
You need to make sure that your efforts are producing the desired result: data integrity that you can rely on if you lose regular data. Go through the process of recovering data and find any problems before you are in an emergency situation. If you're using a service, find out exactly how fast it will respond to a failure and the steps it will take. To ensure the integrity of your backups, you'll want to periodically test to see if your removable media have the correct data stored on them. Tapes, in particular, can be finicky. You'll also want to make sure that you don't push your tapes past their recommended usage and that you clean your tape drive occasionally. Also, you may want to run operations off your backup server during the early morning hours of a weekend to find out how well it performs as your primary server and how seamless the transition really is. Until you put your system to the test, you won't really know what to expect and may get an unpleasant surprise when you try to use the system. Schedule your tests regularly so that you know what you're dealing with.

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