​What do you think of when you hear about “backup” as it relates to your IT systems (as opposed to disaster recovery, which is a discussion for another day)?

When most people think of backup, they think of regularly copying their critical data to (god forbid) tape or another disk-based system and hopefully, they also think about getting that data offsite somehow in case of a fire, flood or other condition that would render the onsite data useless. While this is of course correct, it is only the very minimum that every organization should be doing for backup.

Have you ever considered backing up some of the other components on your network such as phone systems, network appliances, firewalls and routers? Each one of these devices can be just as critical to your business as your data. If one of these devices fails, it can cause a major network service interruption that can result in lost revenues and reputation.

How can you protect these other components? Take a hard look at every device on your network and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What network services will be down if this device fails?
  2. What is the impact to my business during the time that the device is down?
  3. How would I replace or repair it?
  4. Do I have a maintenance or replacement contract with the manufacturer/vendor?
  5. Is the device (or a suitable replacement) readily available, or is it discontinued?
  6. Do I have a backup of the configuration or any data stored on the device, and can it be uploaded to a replacement?
  7. Do I have the in-house expertise to perform the replacement and recovery, or do I need to contract with a partner to take care of it?​

If the sum of the answers to these questions for a particular device is be “We can just run to Staples and install a new unit in an hour or so,” that’s fine. However, the answers are probably more like “Wow, if that thing goes down we will lose access to our main business app, or even worse, our phones, and no, I don’t have a backup or any idea how we would replace it and get it running again. And I will be losing thousands of dollars every hour that it is down!”

If the latter is the case, having a backup plan for the device is just as important as backing up your critical data and all part of a complete backup strategy.