Short answer – yes, and why haven’t you done this already?
There’s a famous story floating around the internet about a man named Mr. Masala who deleted all of his company’s data with one line of bad code.1 It’s since been debunked as a hoax but the message is still powerful. According to slashdot.org, Mr. Masala was debugging his servers by running a line of code and added one space too many, thereby erasing everything2. Most modern companies rely on a network of servers to collect data that is essential to their daily functions. Many of our readers are small business owners; can you imagine something happening, something seemingly small, and suddenly ALL of your information is gone? Just like that?
What do you do after such a catastrophic event? Can that information be recovered? Many comments on Mr. Masala’s ill-fated forum post were fatalistic. “I feel sorry to say that your company is now essentially dead,” wrote a user called Sven.3 Another user, Michael Hampton, was equally pessimistic. “You’re going out of business.” he writes. “You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer.”4 Even the most optimistic users agreed that Mr. Masala’s business would suffer and that recovering his information would be expensive, time-consuming, and likely to fail.
Now that I have your attention…
Mr. Masala’s predicament turned out to be a hoax based on an elaborate viral marketing scheme. However, stranger things have happened. I had a client whose building was hit by lightning; the resulting power surge fried his computers. Another client was unfortunate enough to live in a flood zone. Yet another client got a nasty computer virus that erased vital information from his servers. I could go on, and on, and on. Fortunately all of these stories have happy endings, because I always insist that my clients run backups on their servers.
Now, the extent to which their information is backed up is dependent on the client. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you have an information-sensitive business such as an accounting firm, it may be worth your money to buy software that runs full backups on a daily basis, both locally and remotely. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, leave a comment and I can recommend several excellent products. However, if your information doesn’t change that often, you’d probably be safe backing up your servers once or twice a year with a cheaper program. Again, comment if you need any recommendations as I’d be happy to give them.
If there’s anything that you take away from this article, I hope it’s this: backups are really, really important. Also, don’t mess around with code scripts when you don’t know what you’re doing. Lesson over.