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Data Warehousing: The Next Line <br />of Protection for Your Company's <br />Critical Data

A few months ago, I wrote a column for the Central Illinois Business Magazine detailing the basic--yet critically important--procedures each business should take to back up its critical data.

The importance of maintaining a regular backup schedule--overseen by office personnel or your I.T. services professional--cannot be overstated, as the investment in backup software, enough backup tapes to ensure a daily backup may be completed and the costs associated with dedicating an employee or third-party I.T. firm to oversee the process is vastly less expensive than the prospect of attempting to recover data from a server that has failed and was not adequately backed up prior to the failure.

Businesses committed to ensuring critical data is safe and secure at all times now have another weapon at their disposal: off-site data warehousing. Simply put, data warehousing enables your company to avoid putting all of its eggs in one basket, essentially creating a safety net should a backup job fail or the media upon which your data is stored become damaged or corrupt.

Data warehouse firms upload the data you desire to store offsite--a lengthy process, to be sure, but a process that generally only needs to happen once. Afterwards, the data warehousing company can take a snapshot of your data and update only files and folders that have changed since the initial upload.

This makes periodic updates quick and easy while ensuring you have the peace of mind that your critical data is stored in a remote, offsite location for easy retrieval should disaster strike.

While procedures vary from vendor to vendor, many data warehousing firms can transmit your data to you over a secure Internet connection or send it to you via Federal Express or a similar courier. Either option enables you to resume normal business operations immediately and thereby eliminate costly downtime--downtime that can cripple a business in a matter of just a few days.

Your I.T. service professional can advise which data warehousing firm is right for your business. Fees for this service are generally quite reasonable: a small price to pay, indeed, for the knowledge that, in addition to your office's regular backup routine, your critical data is safe and secure in an offsite facility should the need ever arise.

Reminder: Lightning Can Strike Twice

In the May 2007 edition of the Central Illinois Business Magazine, Jeff Facer, CEO of Area-Wide Technologies and a CIBM contributor, outlined the steps every business should take to safeguard its network infrastructure from potentially devastating lightning strikes. With thunderstorm season once again upon us in central Illinois, business owners should review the measures they can take to ensure severe weather does not interfere with daily business operations.

Perhaps the most effective means of protection your business can employ is the careful placement of surge protectors. Of course, not even a surge protector can shield your network infrastructure from a direct lightning strike, but storm data shows that most power surges are the result of lightning striking a nearby transformer or piece of electrical equipment. Surge protectors can help mitigate the tremendous amount of energy that surges through electrical wiring and telephone lines.

I've seen firsthand the destructive consequences suffered by businesses unprepared for the awe-inspiring--yet tremendously dangerous--storms that darken Illinois skies from April through August.

Your I.T. service provider can recommend devices to help protect your network from the devastating fury of severe weather--and given the consequences of failing to ensure your business is protected, it's never too early to contact your provider for an assessment and recommendations.

- Jason Facer is the president and COO of Area-Wide Technologies. He can be reached at (217) 359-8041 or jafacer@areawidetech.com.

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