offsite data backup not offsite data backup? The following story offers an
example—and a warning—to cities.
A city was
already backing up its data onsite using an extra server. If the server failed
at city hall, the other one would take over to restore the city’s data.
However, some department heads urged the city to also consider an offsite data
backup plan in case of a major disaster. The city manager researched some
options and brought in a few IT experts to talk about possible solutions.
outside IT experts reinforced and reiterated the idea of creating both an
onsite and offsite data backup plan, the city took a shortcut. The city manager
didn’t like the idea of sending data off to a data center. He viewed it as
unnecessarily expensive. Plus, he wanted control—to “see” the data when he
wished. And so the city nixed the idea of offsite data backup located far away from
As a result,
the city worked around these parameters to build an “offsite” data backup plan.
Working with their local IT vendor, the city set up a backup server in a
building they owned located just down the block from city hall. The city
manager argued that this building was separate from the city hall building and,
thus, “offsite.” If something destroyed city hall, this server would contain
all their data. Problem solved.
Or was it?
One day, a
huge EF3 tornado descended upon the city. With winds upward of 150 miles per hour,
the tornado destroyed many buildings in a swath of downtown. As the city
assessed the damage, they discovered that the tornado destroyed not only city
hall but also all buildings on that block—including the “offsite” building that
stored the city’s backed up data.
data permanently lost, the city found itself at a crippling disadvantage at the
very moment when citizens needed city hall and public safety operating at full
capacity as soon as possible after the disaster. And even beyond the disaster,
the city would have to deal with permanent data loss affecting its operations
for a long, long time.
scenario seem unlikely? That’s what all cities, businesses, organizations, and
people often think...until after the disaster strikes. With increasing numbers
of tornadoes each year in the United States that grow bigger and more
devastating, it’s not unlikely that your city may face this threat—or any other
at the errors in our story and how your city can avoid them.
not mean down the block. It does not even mean two blocks away. True offsite
data backup means many many miles away. When your data is stored in a
geographic location far away from your city, it’s likelier to be protected from
a localized disaster such as a tornado.
recommend that you send offsite data to at least two data centers (for example,
one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast). It takes some time to set up
the technology and the automated data transference to these data centers. But
once set up, the offsite data backup runs without the city having to do much of
anything. And if a city block is destroyed, your data is safe and accessible
from multiple data centers. Your city can start operating within hours of the
disaster while you are in the process of ordering new servers.
might be cheaper to set up another server in a building down the block. It’s
also cheaper to buy health insurance with high deductibles that don’t cover
serious medical conditions. In each case, the costs are astronomical when a
disaster hits. Cheaper isn’t better and it’s a poor tool to judge a data backup
solution’s ability to mitigate risk.
cost of losing your data? How will your community be impacted if all city records
are lost? That’s the cost you should assess. From there, you can make a better
case for investing in a disaster recovery solution that mitigates risks by
storing data in a geographical location far from your city.
to “see” and be near where your data is stored doesn’t mean it’s more secure. A
server inside your city can lack the most basic security protection and be more
open to hackers than your offsite data backup locked down with the highest
security standards in a data center far away. Focus on security and an ability
to recover from a disaster, not proximity to your data.
this city did not think through the consequences of a disaster. They didn’t think
through scenarios such as a tornado that can affect a wide area. Not prepared
for a probable worst-case scenario, the city found itself completely without
its data or a plan if it lost its data. Instead, it assumed that a disaster
destroying both buildings was so unlikely that they didn’t have to worry.
a disaster recovery plan needs to include proper offsite data backup. We
recommend that any offsite data backup plan considers:
Questions about your offsite data backup and disaster recovery plan? Reach out to us today.
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