Are You Ready for Potential Litigation?

Best Buy alerted me to the fact that, in December, a new motivation beyond business productivity and protection emerged. New amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP), which went into effect on December 1, 2006, require any organization with the potential to be involved in litigation to be prepared for electronic delivery requests. Small businesses must have electronic data stored and easily accessible.
I invited Brad Johnson, Business Technology Consultant at Best Buy For Business to share some insight about data backup. This is NOT new information, but needs to be repeated again and again.
Depending on the size of a business and the data, two main options can provide a proper back-up system: tape back-up for a server or an external hard drive.
Tape Back-up
For those on a small-business server, tape back-up provides the flexibility coupled with functionality that a small business needs. When using a tape back-up system, it’s important to develop a plan for how often updates will be made, which will depend on the volume of data being developed as well as the type of data to be stored. In addition, back-up tapes require a storage plan either off-site or in a fire-proof box.
Part of developing the plan is determining which data is crucial and which data is secondary. Backing up every single piece of data will not only cause the tapes to fill quickly, but also will make searching a back-up tape more tedious. An example is personal data, such as photos, which may take up a lot of space but doesn’t need to be backed up. By creating folder hierarchies that separate business and personal files, the most pertinent files are easily identified.
A server environment also provides the opportunity for advanced capabilities such as digital fax storage, which stores electronic files of faxed documents, such as signed contracts.
External Hard Drive
For a small-business owner without a server, working on an individual computer where important data is going to a hard drive, an external hard drive can fill back-up needs. Most models are easy to access by pushing a button on the front of the drive.
Accessing Data
When data does need to be accessed from a back-up drive or tape, small businesses can make these instances less hectic by maintaining and documenting a back-up plan. Understand how file directories work and keep track of when key documents are created, then stored. Software such as Symantec Back-Up Exec can assist in the process and when managed properly, data access becomes easier.
By purchasing the hardware and software to support a data storage plan, then sticking to that plan, small businesses put themselves in a position of compliance with data storage laws and also protect the information needed to operate a business.
[Ramon’s comments – I’d also add a few more backup options – online (Internet) backup (such as from Backupmyinfo), and backup to CD or DVD.]