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Tip: 9 Questions You Must Ask Yourself When Planning a Backup Strategy

It takes time to create and implement a backup and recovery plan. You’ll need to figure out what data needs to be backed up, how often the data should be backed up, and more. To help you create a plan, consider the following questions:

How important or sensitive is the data on your systems?
The importance of data can go a long way toward helping you determine if you need to back it up—as well as when and how it should be backed up. For critical data, such as a database, you’ll want to have redundant backup sets that extend back for several backup periods. For sensitive data, you’ll want to ensure that backup data is physically secure or encrypted. For less important data, such as daily user files, you won’t need such an elaborate backup plan, but you’ll need to back up the data regularly and ensure that the data can be recovered easily.

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What type of information does the data contain?
Data that doesn’t seem important to you might be very important to someone else. Thus, the type of information the data contains can help you determine if you need to back up the data—as well as when and how the data should be backed up.

How often does the data change?
The frequency of change can affect your decision on how often the data should be backed up. For example, data that changes daily should be backed up daily.

Can you supplement backups with shadow copies?
Shadow copies are point-in-time copies of documents in shared folders. These point-in-time copies make recovering documents easy, because you can quickly go back to an older version in case a document is deleted or overwritten accidentally. You should use shadow copies in addition to standard backup—not to replace backup procedures.

How quickly do you need to recover the data?
Time is an important factor in creating a backup plan. For critical systems, you might need to get back online swiftly. To do this, you might need to alter your backup plan.

Do you have the equipment to perform backups?
You must have backup hardware to perform backups. To perform timely backups, you might need several backup devices and several sets of backup media. Backup hardware includes tape drives, optical drives, and removable disk drives. Generally, tape drives are less expensive but slower than other types of drives.

Who will be responsible for the backup and recovery plan?
Ideally, someone should be a primary contact for the organization’s backup and recovery plan. This person might also be responsible for performing the actual backup and recovery of data.

What’s the best time to schedule backups?
Scheduling backups when system use is as low as possible will speed the backup process. However, you can’t always schedule backups for off-peak hours. So you need to carefully plan when key system data is backed up.

Do you need to store backups off-site?
Storing copies of backup tapes off-site is essential to recovering your systems in the case of a natural disaster. In your offsite storage location, you should also include copies of the software you might need to install to reestablish operational systems.

From the Microsoft Press book Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant by William R. Stanek.

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