No Excuses! Backup Your Windows Server

There have been many statistics quoted about business continuity and data loss for small businesses, mostly from companies that want to “help” you prevent the tragedy of going out of business.

Mark Twain said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Regardless of the percentage quoted for business failures, the fact is: many small businesses will not survive long after the the loss of all of their contracts, orders, invoices, and other records.

Backup can be easy and affordable

Fortunately, for many small businesses, it is a lot easier and much less expensive to implement a solid backup strategy today.

There are two critical steps to protect your business from a catastrophic loss of data.

  • Backup your data. 
  • Store your backups off site.

Both of these steps can be quite a process, especially for large companies that have a lot of data. There are some critical pieces of these steps for small businesses too but, for many, backup does not have to be complicated or expensive. 

Digital tape drives used to be the most widely used hardware systems for backup. However, disk storage technology has improved tremendously in speed, capacity and cost. Most companies are now using, or moving to, disk based backup systems.

Windows Server may have all the software you need

If you are using Windows Server 2008, or Windows Small Business Server 2008, you may have all the software you need already. Both come with backup software that is greatly improved over previous versions. Add a couple of inexpensive, portable USB hard drives, and you may have everything you need to implement an effective backup strategy.

The backup software that comes with Windows Server 2008 and Windows SBS 2008, is a little different, but either can handle the needs of many small offices. 

Three steps to backing up your data
  1. If you use software that requires a database (a lot of vertical market software does, i.e. Sybase Anywhere, SQL Express, etc.), follow your software’s instructions for backing up the database. Usually, this means the database software itself will need to close the database files and copy the database to backup files. Once this is done, Windows Server Backup will back up those files, along with all your other files.
  2. You can use one backup drive, but using two will make it much easier to rotate one off site each day. Format the drives using NTFS and label them so you can identify which has which backup job. You will not be able to use them for storage other than backups. Choose a drive with at least 3 to 4 times the capacity of your total utilized disk space. For many businesses 1 TB drives will do just fine.
  3. Using Windows Server Backup, select the drives or folders you would like to backup and create a schedule. If your database software allows you to schedule a backup, schedule one so it will have enough time to complete, before your Windows Server Backup starts. Otherwise, backup up your database as recommended before your scheduled Windows Server Backup. Your backup will use whichever drive is available. If you are using two, just disconnect one and take it home with you everyday!

It’s easy to get started!

I recently helped a customer implement a system like this in about two hours, and that including training them how to manage their off site rotation, backup and restore files. They used two Western Digital Passport 1 TB USB drives they purchased for about $120 each. 
You will probably want to read a little more about your database software’s backup procedures and Windows Server Backup, but it really isn’t that complicated!

For more on Windows Server Backup:


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