Dealing with law firms and their software for 30 years has put me in a unique position to sift through a variety of solutions to any number of IT or software related problems that law offices find themselves facing.
Once such problem has been making sure that both backups are working properly. We absolutely insist that Members have two backups. One done onsite and kept there, updated daily, and one done online and kept offsite. Making sure that online backups actually work may require some real attention up front—and of course a constant check to make sure everything is functioning later as well.
If your online backups aren’t working here are some suggestions I’ve learned from trial and error over the years. If you have any other tips to share—by all means please add to the list!
- Back up “data” not programs; you own the commercial software, you can reinstall it in the event of a failure; this includes your operating system
- If you want to protect your operating system and commercial software, install a RAID I system and it is continuously protected
- Know your upload maximum speed; you can use www.speedtest.net to find this out, and figure about 80% efficiency on a good day
- Know your data block/packet size; default is 2048 bits for each, but if you have altered this, you may have data crashes; have sufficient RAM to support the block/packet size selected; 4 GIG will support 2048 but not 4096 size in a backup situation
- Don’t run a synchronization backup system, unless you are fully aware of what you are doing
- Don’t run a continuous backup unless you have the resources available to support the normal daily workload, as well as the backup system; the minimum system for this might be a gigabyte network, with minimum dual NIC in the server for a split load, quad core, and 8 GIG of DDR3 1600 RAM
- Schedule your backup to run when other server functions are not scheduled to run; if your server is trying to do auto-updates, A/V scans, disk compression, registry cleaning (which they typically do each night) don’t schedule the backup for that same time frame
- Archive your antiquated information; if you haven’t accessed it in 3 years, you probably don’t need it held in a ready mode, being indexed continuously and clogging up your index cache system; I didn’t say delete it, archive it, either on another server, or on a mapped drive in your server that is not indexed; you can backup the archive during the day, because no one is accessing that information
- Give the backup server something it can handle; if you dump 500 GIG on the backup system, it will fail 99% of the time, probably forever; an example should clarify how this works – the first night you back up 25 GIG for a partial backup; doing the math, that is 20 days and you are complete backup up; WRONG! on day 2, when you should be getting the 2nd 25 GIG, you are actually taking care of the files that changed in the 1st 25 GIG first (this is the incremental side of it), then any left over time will be allocated to the next 25 GIG; the 3rd night you are taking care of changes to the 1st 25 GIG, any changes that occurred in the 2nd block that did get backed up, then it will continue working on the 2nd 25 GIG; you thought you should have 75 GIG in 3 days, when in actually you don’t even have 50 GIG, so you are falling behind already = FAILED
- After you have segregated your data, pick a backup set from your ready data of approximately 10 GIG for the 1st night; on a fiber system, it will probably complete; depending upon the results the next morning, add another “chunk” to the backup set; on Friday evening, just before you go home, add a huge block (but not 500 GIG) to the backup set and manually start it running as it will have Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday to complete; your incremental backup will run on schedule, so you are gradually becoming fully protected; after all, you didn’t get all that data overnight, don’t expect to back it up overnight.
Establishing your backup system and routine is not difficult, just takes a little patience and work to get it fully functional.
Technical Services Engineer
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
6050 Santo Road, Suite 240
San Diego, CA 92124