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Years ago, a pastor told a story about when he preached the same sermon to his congregation over and over, every Sunday week after week. The message was about the principles of tithing. After many weeks someone from the congregation finally asked him, “Pastor, when are you going to preach on something other than tithing?” The Pastor simply replied, “When you start doing it.”
You can apply that same idea to data backups. Everywhere you look, IT companies are “preaching” the simple steps to data security. Repetitive information, over and over, and yet we still encounter the heartache of business owners who didn’t think it applied to them – and the end result of data loss was very painful.
You shouldn’t depend on luck to protect your data. That’s why I’m going to preach to you 3 common missteps dental offices make with data backup that you might be making.
1. Not Verifying your Backup – How Much are you Willing to Lose?
Most of the time your backup solution works as planned, but not 100% of the time. To avoid an extremely avoidable ugly surprise, check the backup daily and make sure the data you “THINK” is being backed up is actually where it should be.
How frequently should you backup? That depends on how much you are willing to lose. If you could lose a week of data, then backup weekly. If the thought of that puts you into fits, then backup daily and redundantly to the cloud. Your cloud solution should be HIPAA compliant and savvy enough to have redundant systems and backups of your data. Cheap offsite backups like Mozy or Carbonite are either not HIPAA complaint or are very cumbersome with their recovery solution, costing you expensive down time.
What if you had to store your life savings in your office, who would you trust to check on it every day to ensure it was all still there and nothing was missing? The same trust factor should apply to the individual verifying your data backups. If you wouldn’t trust them with your life savings, you shouldn’t be entrusting them with the viability of your backup results. It’s your livelihood, not your employee’s. If you lose all your data, they’ll just move on to another job. You lose. No amount of money can get your data back once it’s gone.
2. Depending on Employees to Save and Backup Data to your Server
Many dental offices only back up their server; the problem is, employees often keep a LOT of critical documents and data on their workstations that are NOT being backed up. The right thing to do is automate your backups so ALL devices and data are backed up without depending on someone’s memory. You should be backing up ALL of your data and checking the results of EVERY backup. I’ve seen it time and time again where someone installs software on a workstation such as an accounting or time clock program and makes the assumption that the backup solution will automatically back it up.
3. Having a Single Point of Failure and Not Choosing the Right Tool for the Job
If you’re still using outdated tape drives (and we hope you’re not) you might discover that nobody can remember the password to access the data on it. Or there may be only one person in the organization who knows where your data is being backed up and how to access it. A smart move would be to walk through a couple of “what if” scenarios to see if you actually have what you need to recover your data. Having a good, reliable backup and disaster recovery plan are essentials for every business that should be installed and maintained by a pro. After all, if you knew there was a chance you could fall out of an airplane, would you want the cheapest parachute strapped to your back? Of course not – and that doesn’t mean you need to spend an arm and a leg for the most expensive one either.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure the data you “think” you backed up is actually happening. Just an accidental bump in the night can stop backup functionality. So don’t be like the congregation – “listen” and “start doing”. Find out what mistakes you’re making and correct them. Don’t wait to find out your computer backup is incomplete when it is most needed.
Dan Edwards is the CEO and Founder of PACT-ONE Solutions, one of the largest IT companies in the USA dedicated specifically to the needs of the dental professional.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org