Everything Training Companies Need to Know about Backups

Jun 26th, 2012 | By | Category: Software and Tools

Local backups to separate hard drives will prevent data lossStarting a business can be tough, and often it’s difficult to judge the importance or priority of any give item or task.  One of your highest priority actions as a training business needs to be developing a robust data backup plan.

While important for any business, training companies are especially susceptible to suffering when data loss occurs as training businesses are primarily content and information businesses.  Your money is made based on content delivery (often electronic) to delegates and students (scheduled electronically) at locations (also scheduled) and via vendors and instructors.  All of these pieces have contact information, commitments, and other critical details stored and scheduled within different computer systems.

Good News – This Won’t be Difficult, Time Consuming, or Expensive

The good news is developing and implementing a total business backup and disaster recovery plan isn’t as hard as it seems.  It’s also not expensive anymore!

Here are the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Where is all of my data?
  • How is it backed up?  Will my backups survive a geographic issue?

Where is All of My Data?

Many training providers manage their entire business using Microsoft Office products or their equivalents.  Others use training management software systems that store their data on servers locally or via the cloud.  No matter which way you choose to run your business, you need to take a quick inventory of where your critical data lives.  We suggest doing this in Excel and then printing off a copy and keeping it in a safe place with our important corporate documents (like a fire safe or safety deposit box).

For each item on your list, add the following columns:

  • Data (e.g. Email, or Documents)
  • Backed Up Locally? (Y/N, if yes, specify where)
  • Backed Up Remotely?

This can be much more complex in the future, but is fine for now.  For each item on your list, we’ll make sure we’ve got things backed up.

How is My Data Backed Up?

We strongly recommend that you implement a two step backup system:

  1. Local backups that store files close by and are separate from whatever they’re backing up (like on an external hard drive or separate computer)
  2. A remote backup system.

Local backups can be handled easily and cheaply via Time Machine for Apple users and via Windows7 backup utilities.  Both of these systems can be scheduled to run at certain intervals, support encryption, and have plenty of good howtos available to guide you through the setup.  Having a local backup protects you against computer failure your spilling coffee, but won’t protect you against theft, a fire, or some sort of major environmental issue like flooding or a hurricane.

Offsite backups will protect you against the elements and other major incidents.  Remote backups can be handled easily by a host of great cloud backup services.  We highly recommend Backblaze for offsite backups.  It works for both Windows and Mac computers, and allows encrypted, unlimited data backup for a simple flat fee per computer.  In the event of a disaster, they’ll even mail you a variety of storage devices loaded with you data to get it in your hands faster in case you don’t have a great internet connection.  The software limits the upload speeds while you’re working so you don’t notice the impact as well.

Third Parties and Other Service Providers

Check with your email supplier to see what their backup and disaster recovery procedures are.  If you’ve chosen one of the companies in our Email Service Provider guide, you’ll know they have really great publicly available policies on how they protect your data, and impressive uptimes!  If you’re using a scheduling or course booking software system, make sure they have a documented and publicly available backup strategy that protects you.

Parting Thoughts

This might sound hard, but stop what you’re doing, and make sure you have your data backed up!  Data loss is a major driver for small businesses going out of business and training providers simply can’t afford to see their class scheduled go up in unrecoverable smoke!

Stop what you’re doing now.  Start backing up!

Most companies can get started and get through this list in under an hour with a very small investment of money.  Now go forth and get backed up!

Twitter Facebook Google+ Linkedin Email

Leave a Comment