I was having a conversation with the manager of an industrial manufacturing company last week when we started talking about backup. The manager bragged to me that they were getting their backups for about $15 per month. I was intrigued. To think that this business that generates multiple millions in sales each year can back up their systems for $15 a month sounds like the holy grail of backups. And so, I dug a little deeper.

Setting the stage for their environment, the manager explained that they have a server running Microsoft Dynamics as their ERP system. For those of you unfamiliar with Microsoft Dynamics, it is an ERP system that runs SQL databases to store and manage the data.

The manager of the business explained that their total data is about 10GB of storage that they can backup offsite using a product like Carbonite that does offsite file backup. In the event of a server failure, they can copy this database to another, standby server they have on location. If worse comes to worst, they can put the database on a workstation and run it from there.

And here is where intrigue turned to fear. Time did not permit a full evaluation of this manager’s backup procedures but I’d like to take a couple of minutes to layout some things you need to think about if you are backing up SQL or other types of databases, especially for mission-critical systems like your ERP.

  • Use the backup functionality from within the software. Microsoft SQL Server and most of the other major SQL database servers have built-in functionality for creating backups of the database (see Microsoft’s detailed information here: http://bit.ly/2rK1G6g). SQL data is written in transactions that are logged by the server. A simple file backup of just the data file does not include the transaction data. When trying to restore, you will likely end up with a database that is in an “inconsistent state” and will generate errors.
  • Restoring 10GB of data from a cloud provider is going to take a very long time. Estimated restore rates from Carbonite are 3-4GB per day. So, with a 10GB restore, you are looking at 3+ days. Can you be without your mission-critical ERP system for 3+ days?
  • The overwhelming number one cause of data loss is human error. Someone accidentally deletes data they should not have deleted. Sometimes this is known right away and sometimes it is not known for several days. Meaning, even a file level backup that includes all the necessary data for restoring a database may leave you having to restore data from several days ago. So, pick your poison. Lose the data that was accidentally deleted or lose the data from the several days of work following the delete.

There are very effective and simple measures that can be taken to avoid the dangers above. The caveat being, they cost more than $15 a month. The question you must ask yourself is, how valuable is your data? The costs you need to consider are:

  • The cost of downtime. Any loss of data is going to create downtime. The question is how much? If you have 13 employees averaging $35,000 per year in salary that are reduced to 20% productivity, you are losing about $175 per hour of downtime. Three days down is about $4,200.
  • The cost of emergency technical support. Restoring data is typically considered emergency tech support and comes at a higher cost. Typical rates will range between $150-$300 per hour. Three days of emergency tech support will usually range between $3,600 and $7,200.
  • The cost of missed opportunities or customer dissatisfaction. Business will not stop when you are without your data. Existing customers will call and new customers will present themselves. If you are unable to service these customers, old and new, you stand a very real chance of either missing a new opportunity or losing a customer altogether.
  • The typical cost for a highly functional and reliable data backup and recovery solution that solves the concerns above is around $300 per month. These solutions give you the capability to be back up and running at 100% in an hour or two. Given the conservative hard costs of data recovery without this type of solution range between $7,500 and $11,000, you’re looking at significant cost savings. Given the added likelihood of losing new customers and upsetting existing customers, the value of a good back up system is even greater.

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