Irish firms need to buck up about backup

30 Jan 2007

More than two out of five Irish companies do not have a documented disaster recovery plan in place, a new survey has revealed.

MJ Flood Technology, which conducted the poll into backup practices within Irish organisations, found that 43pc of companies have no documented disaster recovery plan in place. In addition, 90pc are not performing weekly test restores on the storage media, which best practice advises they should do.

Three out of ten respondents (31pc) admitted that the location for storing backup media is not fireproof. Some 17pc of companies said they store backup media onsite only, leaving them exposed to data loss if the company office was to be damaged or in some way inaccessible.

Good backup practice also recommends that backup media be replaced every 12 months but the survey found that 30pc of companies are not doing so. In addition, 21pc of organisations said that only one person is responsible for storing backup media.

Ironically, 61pc of companies seem relatively happy with how their backup system is working, rating it eight out of 10.

Some Irish organisations obviously understand why backup is important: 42pc cited loss of employee productivity and 18pc gave loss of the entire business as consequences of losing data. That concern seemingly isn’t matched to financial need: 43pc of companies said they don’t plan to allocate any IT budget to it in the next 12 months. In many cases, just 10pc of overall IT budgets go on backup-related spend.

The survey was conducted last month and 155 named IT staffers responded, representing a range of organisations across the public and private sectors.

Darragh Canavan, sales director with Keep-IT-Safe, said he had seen similar trends in Irish companies. He estimated that around 70pc of organisations back up to tape, while 10pc have no backup policy at all.

Anecdotally, some small firms such as solicitors often have their secretaries back up files on a USB memory key – a technique used in around 20pc of cases, said Canavan. “It’s just not a safe option,” he said, pointing out that if these devices went missing or were stolen, the information could be easily accessed. “Some programs encrypt tapes, but there’s no encryption on CDs or memory keys, so anyone can read them.”

Canavan claimed that under the Data Protection Act, 2003, organisations are obliged to keep their electronic information safe and secure.

He pointed out that backing up to a secure facility over the internet is starting to become popular, with providers such as Eircom, Iron Mountain and Keep-IT-Safe offering similar services. “Online backup hasn’t taken off in the Irish market because of broadband speeds and because people aren’t educated in the way it operates,” he claimed.

His observation is supported by the MJ Flood survey, which found low levels of awareness of this option. Just over half of respondents (51pc) said they had never heard of online backup services. Of those who had considered it, 34pc cited cost and 18pc cited security as the main reasons why they had not chosen it as a backup platform.

“People don’t know how simple it is,” Canavan added. “A lot of consultants would rather make their profit margin by selling you a big server and a load of tapes,” he said.

By Gordon Smith