Do you know your data is secure, or are you just assuming? And by “secure,” I mean safe from other people’s eyes as well as recoverable.
We’ve talked about the multiple ways to keep unwanted people out of your information:
- Educate your people.
- Have complex and changing passwords.
- Use two-factor authentication.
As most of those require regular action, it is easier to keep that sort of security in mind. What about the parts that do not require regular action? Do you know, for a fact, that your automatic backups are actually backing up your data in the location(s) you specified? Are you sure you could recover your data if you discovered your laptop was your dog’s favorite new chew toy?
Have a fire drill and find out.
Data Fire Drill
Even if it was only in school, you have had a fire drill. You practiced getting your coat and calmly leaving the building, meeting at a designated spot, and waiting for the all-clear. A data fire drill is similar.
Here is an example of a data fire drill: Let’s assume your usual workstation shuts down unexpectedly and will not restart. From a computer different than your usual workstation, go get your data from your backup locations. As this is only a drill, just grab a couple of files – at least one old and one very new. Was it easy to find, download, and open these files? Was the downtime reasonable? What obstacles did you encounter?
The thing about automatic anything is that they have a habit of stopping. How many times have you had to pull open an “automatic” door? And, of course, they always break down when you really need them to be working. However, they seem to behave when you check on them regularly.
What to Test
This is more than just “are the files backing up.”
- Do you even know how to access your backup program from a different computer? (For that matter, do you know how to access it from your own computer?)
- Are the files where you expect them to be?
- Are the backed-up files as current as you expect them to be?
- If you have multiple backup locations, are they all working as expected?
- Did the replacement computer have the necessary applications to open these files?
What Does “Regularly” Mean?
There is a balance between doing your day job and making sure everything is safe and secure. Unless you are working on something so vital that you cannot afford to lose more time on it, we suggest running a data fire drill twice to four times a year. Assuming everything checked out last time, or you fixed what needed fixing, then you reasonably limit how much damage catastrophic loss of your hardware can do.
We used to suggest doing a drill when you changed your clocks; since Standard Time is only about four months – if your state changes it’s clock, that timing is a bit out of balance.
Now we suggest running a drill as soon as possible and setting an alert in your calendar for three to six months from then. To save yourself some effort, make it a recurring event!
If you question any aspect of your data security – from passwords to backups – always feel free to contact Wade at Cantrell’s Information Technologies. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 925 827 1200)