Back Up Your Data to Survive a Disaster; What You Should Know about Information Storage Strategies

By Hunton, James E. | Journal of Accountancy, April 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Back Up Your Data to Survive a Disaster; What You Should Know about Information Storage Strategies

Hunton, James E., Journal of Accountancy

How safe is the information in your computer? If a fire, flood, earthquake or even sabotage struck your office, would your electronic data survive? And if you could access your data, how long would it take to get your information system up and running again?

These questions are being asked with far more urgency since the tragedy of September 11. While the questions, as you shall see, are often difficult to answer, what's clear is that organizations large and small need to prepare comprehensive disaster-preparation strategies. This article focuses on just one area of disaster preparedness: data backup.

The first step in designing such a strategy requires that you answer two questions:

* Downtime: How quickly must you recover the information before your business experiences serious setbacks?

* Cost: How much are you willing to pay to implement a data-backup plan?

To answer the downtime question, you must address, among other things, issues such as how well your organization can tolerate missed sales opportunities, delayed cash receipts, decreased employee productivity, lost purchase discounts and possible loss of customers, investors and trading partners. Faster recovery times equal lower downtime costs. However, strategies that speed recovery also can be expensive. While this article cannot cover all aspects of each strategy, it will summarize the major techniques.


The practice of storing the backed-up data in a secure place, called vaulting, assumes that an organization's computer files are copied regularly on some type of removable medium, such as magnetic tape, CD or hard disk, and then delivered to an off-site location for safekeeping. The timing and extent of backups can vary (from continuous real time to once a day or once a week), depending on the organization's needs.

Renting a bank's safe-deposit box is about the most costly way to store backups, ranging from $15 to $100 a month, depending on the amount of space needed. At the low end of the cost spectrum is to have at least two employees bring separate copies of the data home every night.

Performing backups, if done manually, is slow and tedious. However, there is software on the market that does the task effortlessly. The least expensive tool, which is built into the Windows operating system, copies data from your hard disk, compresses it and then stores it on another medium. The utility also makes it easy to restore the data from the archived copy.

If you require more functionality, consider buying specialized software such as SmartSync Pro (, Retrospect ( or NovaStor ( The purchase price of backup-recovery software ranges from around $35 to $1,000, depending on its sophistication. Key features to look for in backup-recovery software include the ability to handle various media such as tapes, disks and rewritable CDs, to automatically schedule full and incremental backups, to report backup activities, to verify archived data, to support multiple file types and specific needs such as SQL databases and Exchange Server and the ability to track archived files and selectively restore them.

If you need to back up less than 650 megabytes (Mb), you can use a rewritable CD drive (CR-RW) such as the Yamaha CRW 2100SZ internal SCSI drive (, which costs around $300. If you need to store up to 20 gigabytes (Gb), consider a removable hard drive such as the Peerless drive from Iomega (, which sells for approximately $400. And if your needs exceed 20 Gb, you will probably need to go to tape, such as the ADR50 (50 Gb) internal SCSI digital tape drive offered by OnStream (, which carries a price tag of about $900.

An effective alternative to physical vaulting is electronic vaulting. For instance, a small business can electronically transmit mission-critical data over the Internet to the home computer of a key employee using software applications such as Altiris Carbon Copy (www.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Back Up Your Data to Survive a Disaster; What You Should Know about Information Storage Strategies


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?