A lesson in the importance of data and systems back-up

Date Published: October 13, 2015

Category: Data, Uncategorized

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A customer who recently joined us and who we helped resolve his data back-up nightmare, relays his experience in the hope others learn from his mistakes. If you’d like to learn more about how to better protect your data and systems, contact our sales team.


I never thought of myself as a gambler. Sure, the odd roll over lottery ticket and perhaps a pin in the paper for the Grand National winner but nothing more. The problem is I don’t like losing for, like most accountants I guess, I’ve never seen the need to waste money. But, I was gambling with the future of my practice each and every day. Why? Because I wasn’t looking after one of my most vital assets; my clients’ data.

I knew I should be performing regular back-ups but technology so rarely fails these days that I kept putting the task off as there was always something “more important” to do. And then it happened, TWICE!

Central storage device failure = 10 billable days of time lost

The first time, I came in to my practice one morning to find my two colleagues looking very worried indeed. The computer we used as our central storage device wasn’t working. My colleagues had already tried the simple fixes but no joy. Without that machine we were lost.

A couple of hasty ‘phone calls later I had found a PC clinic who told me they could take a look and see what they could recover. Long story short, the problem was a hard drive failure. The company installed a new hard drive and operating system and recovered about 80% of my data but it might as well have been a total loss because the amount of time it took for the three of us to work out what we’d lost (and then rekey what we could) was sickening. I think we lost about 10 billable days of time between the three of us! If I’d only had a back-up!

So, I went my local PC superstore and was sold a NAS drive to use as a back-up device. 2 terabytes of data storage for just £260, amazing. So, we set up a back-up routine to automatically transfer the data from our server to the NAS drive. Perfect. Never again would we have to worry about losing our client’s data. Box ticked –  or so I thought!

Data loss through theft

Perhaps I’m just unlucky but just two months later we lost all of our data again, or more accurately, it was stolen. Thieves broken in to our office and took all of the computers. Apart from smashing a window, they did very little damage, which was “nice”. But once I’d got over the original shock I then had the gut-wrenching realisation that even though we were backing up our data, we’d lost it all this time.

It seems so obvious once I’d thought it through, but an on-site back-up is a job half done. There are many disasters that could strike our office, be it a flood, fire or theft, which would probably render an on-site back-up useless. And having performed even more research on back-ups, I guess that’s why there are so many cloud back-up services out there.

Lessons learned

So that’s exactly what we use now. For less money a month than one fancy coffee, we have an unlimited automatic off-site back-up facility which I can access from anywhere. A giant sinkhole could swallow my office overnight but I know I could be back up and running in a matter of hours. Even if someone accidentally deletes a file, I know I can get that back in a matter of seconds.

It was a long and painful road, but at least now I know that when I come in to the office in the morning, that little window on our server which says “files back-up up 7 hours ago” gives me comfort that I have one less thing to worry about. Don’t get caught out like I did.


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