In addition to my position as a copywriter and editor, I have spent over six years learning the ins and outs of regular, successful, and not-so-successful backups as a monitor for our own offsite backup. Since then, I have picked up a few things that you may be unaware of but that you need to know.
Having regularly scheduled backups that run successfully and on time is essential to the protection of essential data, whether it’s your database, images, document manager, or something else your office deems important enough to keep safely locked away. Unfortunately, too many people are under the impression that if they haven’t been hit by malware, they never will be.
That’s just not the case.
I have seen several dental offices get hit with ransomware or some other kind of malware that immobilized their practice for hours, sometimes days. All over the world, businesses big and small have been attacked by ransomware, and if one of those businesses ends up being yours, you need to know your data is safe and ready to restore.
Having a backup system in place, whether it’s offsite, on a USB, or some other source is better than not having any backup at all, especially in situations that you can’t control. With a proper backup system, you have a good chance of coming out of a disaster intact. Without backup is just asking for trouble that may be hard to crawl out of.
In this post, using the experience I have with offsite backup, I will provide 4 backup suggestions to ensure that all those confidential medical records, your database, all those images, and everything else important to you, your patients, and your practice are protected.
1. Have a backup strategy
Before I jump right into the suggestions for successful backups, I think it’s fair to talk about how important backing up your data is to the overall health of your practice. I tend to think ahead and imagine that if the worst did happen to me, how would I deal with it? The best way to look at this is by comparing a data disaster to a natural disaster – flood, fire, hurricane, earthquake, tornado. Of course, these don’t happen very often and not everyone is affected when they do, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for them anyway.
Backup is just like insurance. If something happens, your backup is there.
Just to reiterate the point, it is essential for the health and success of your practice to have a backup strategy, whether it’s through offsite backup or some other source. Make sure you have one in place, because, as previously stated, just because the worst hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. And if it does, you need to be prepared.
2. Set it but DON’T forget it
In a lot of promotions, you might hear the following phrase: Set it and forget it. For some products, this is great! Convenient, easy, and hands-off.
But not for your backup.
When it comes to your backup, a hands-on approach is required, from letting your provider know when you’ve made changes to your computer (new server, different file folder, new files) to just keeping track of and reading the reports you receive regarding your backups. Are they successful? Was there an error? Was the error addressed? And are all your backup jobs now running smoothly?
A hands-on approach guarantees that if the worst does happen, your backup plan is there for you, up to date, and ready to restore.
3. Read the reports (they’re important!)
Whether it’s our offsite backup or that of another provider, it’s imperative to read the reports, even if it’s just to reassure yourself that the jobs were successful. If something looks off in those reports, you can reach out to your provider right away to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Waiting too long can be catastrophic in the long run. If a backup is running fine but you notice that nothing new is backing up, that means your backup system is sending up a warning sign. If there is an error or a warning occurring, don’t let it sit. Some offsite backup systems might contact you when an issue comes up, but some won’t, so reach out and have it resolved immediately.
4. Report all Significant changes to everything you’re backing up
Here is something you might not know: No backup system, monitored or not, is able to track when you make significant changes to your computer, whether it’s something big like a server move, or something as small as changing the days your office is open.
As an example, when monitoring our backup system, we ask for a backup schedule from our client: days and times. Some jobs run twice a day. Some jobs only run twice a week, or just the weekend, or just Monday to Thursday. The choices made by the client rely upon when exactly the office is open and closed and when would be a good time to run the backups successfully.
Now, if an office running their backups Monday to Thursday changes their hours so that they’re open Monday to Saturday and no one at the office reaches out, no backups will run at all Friday to Sunday, which means that if something bad happens on Monday, all the data from those three days will be gone.
A more significant change of a server move can have even dire consequences if not reported. An offsite backup will have very defined paths provided by the client, so if those paths change without prior notice, the backup will run but will not be backing up from that new path, therefore, your new data will not be protected.
The point here is to notify your backup provider right away regarding any changes – server move, a change in days that the office is open, even if a file folder is moved to a completely different location. No backup system can track changes like this and will need your help (hands-on approach) to protect your data.
Remember: Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, it just means you’ve been lucky. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Always.
Check out the resources below for more information on backup mistakes to avoid as well as tips for prevention.