Dealer Ops

Avoiding Serious Down Time: Backing up your Computer System

Do you have a comprehensive backup of your computer system? What would you do if your hard drive crashed? How much time would be required to get back to an operational level? Are you sure you have all of your important data copied onto a secure, reliable media for recovery? How often are your backups done? These are all pertinent questions to ask and answer for the data security of your business.

There are two sets of data to be concerned with when planning your backup strategy: company-wide data and worker specific data. Company-wide data will be items like your DMS, internal e-mail system, documents shared amongst departmental or company wide employees. Worker specific data will be business-personal documents (e-mails, memos, letters, spreadsheets etc), software that may be worker specific, desktop icons and other configuration/productivity items. These data sets should be addressed in a multi-layer backup strategy.
Company wide data should be on a regularly scheduled backup regimen that is done daily by the same person(s). These backups should focus on data stored on your server that is critical to restoring your business operations should you experience a server failure. If your dealership has invested in a proper “server” which includes redundant hard drives with mirroring or RAID technology enabling a defective hard drive to be superseded by one of the redundant drives, you are relying on your computer hardware to provide the first level of recovery from a data storage crash. This is an excellent first line of defense, but don’t rely solely on such a solution. Backup to DVD, tape or whatever your chosen media may be, daily.

Company wide data also includes key configuration information such as: router configurations, security setups (passwords and data access authorizations), device sharing, networking configurations and workstation naming, ISP connection info, and other recovery related items that are specific to you dealership. Many routers and other hardware components allow you to save their respective configuration information to your hard drive—a very good idea that dramatically shorten the restore/reconfiguration time in the event of a major system failure.

Worker specific data should be backed up at least monthly; if your environment is more dynamic, shorten your backup schedule to weekly or daily. For consistency and reliability, consider establishing folders on your server for each user. Copy the identified configuration information from each workstation to its respective folder on the server and incorporate these folders into the daily server backup. The Windows Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, located in the System Tools menu, provides a good method of gathering most of the information required to restore a user to their current working environment.

You can use the Windows Scheduler to make copying the workstation information to the server automatic and therefore more reliable. A note on using the Windows Scheduler: from time to time check to see that Scheduler is performing its duties as intended. Following a system crash/failure, more time is lost in restoring your dealership specific configuration than in reloading software and data. Without a proper plan to minimize this portion of restoring your system, many issues will arise at precisely the wrong time. Meaning the overlooked items will be identified when someone in your dealership is attempting to work on a time sensitive task. Take preemptive action, consider a worst case scenario and plan a method of recovering your complete system, including all component configurations.

Vol 4, Issue 6

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