Call Us Free: (515) 974-4260

Scalecast 001 – Disaster Recovery & Backup Tools

Our team loves asking questions. It’s amazing what you uncover when you simply keep unpacking a situation or scenario.  A recent conversation with someone started with their statement – we’re already using the cloud.  After 30 minutes – the net results was that we all agreed the customer is using google for email – and that’s about it.  That is “the cloud” most certainly and this leader is 100% correct.  But as we continued we discovered.

  1. Documents and spreadsheets are created locally and emailed around for editing often involving multiple “conversions” from different formats because folks are on different local office versions.
  2. Only 1 machine has any sort of back up on it currently.  Since the team is using their local drives to store vs. Google drive or anything else for that matter – there’s extreme vulnerability.
  3. There is internal resistance to using the google calendar solution – so while paying for it – the team members have no coordination of calendars.

The point:  Ask questions.  Keep asking questions.  If you enjoy this podcast, please share it with a friend.  Transcript coming soon with links, etc.


As you can tell with this podcast, I’m back at it with my good friend and extreme tech ninja Andy Brudtkuhl of 48web.

Please subscribe via email, RSS or iTunes to this podcast.

Transcript – Download the PDF Here – scalecast-001-disaster-recovery-backup

Doug: After a busy day at the office you hop in the car to go home to your family. You’re hurried. You’re tired. You get home and you realize, “Where’s my bag? The bag was on top of the car.” That was about 20 minutes ago and maybe 30 miles ago. What do you do now? That’s our topic for this week’s Scalecast. Thanks for joining us here on the Scalecast. My name is Doug Mitchell with Of course, with me, back in the saddle again is . . .

Andy: Andy Brudtkuhl of 48 Web.

Doug: Andy is a super tech ninja that I have worked with forever and any of you who are listening to this today probably know that we used to do another series together and we’ve rekindled it. It’s kind of exciting. It’ll be a regular Friday afternoon podcast.

Well, let’s dive right in and talk about, we set this up, you drive away, you realize, “Uh oh. My laptop, my case, my bag, which probably contained a couple of USB drives,” maybe an external hard drive. It was on top of the car. You drove away. Who knows where it is, if it got run over, or maybe it lasted until you got onto the main road and then people ran over it. Maybe you spilled coffee.

Andy: Or worse, someone else found it and now has a hold of it.

Doug: Or someone else found it, and now they’re perusing everything that’s on there. We’re talking about, the greater picture here would be called Disaster Recovery. That is a major disaster, or in some circles you might say that’s business continuity. I’ve heard it called both. That opens up a huge can of worms. How do you avoid these kind of issues when something goes wrong? It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as you leaving stuff and it flying off or somebody stealing everything out from under you.

Andy: Your hard drive can fail, you can drop coffee on your laptop.

Doug: Which my wife has done. She did that, honestly, and I raced over to it. I unscrewed the bottom and tried to get the hard drive out as quickly as possible, and if I were not able to do it that fast, it would have been gone. I was able to recover it, but that’s not the kind of disaster recovery that you want to count on.

Andy: Right. That’s lucky disaster recovery.

Doug: That’s right. The different scenarios that you might face in your business revolve around things like the obvious, like Hurricane Sandy. That’s a big deal where all of a sudden here comes the forecast and it says you are going to get gazillions of inches of rain and your office may be flooded for who knows how long. Yes, you have some warning, but how likely is it that you’re going to go in there and be able to unplug all those servers, all those computers, take them somewhere, set up your network and operate like normal?

Andy: Right. And while people are trying to work at the same time.

Doug: That’s right. So that’s not very practical. The other instances we have are in Iowa, and of course a much larger swath of the U.S., has this problem with tornadoes every now and again.

Andy: Tornadoes and flooding.

Doug: Flooding, you might have advanced warning. Odds are you’ll have some idea it’s coming, but with a tornado you wake up and go back to your place of business and find out that it is gone, including all the paper records. Paper, hard drives, everything you could possibly imagine are now miles away in somebody’s field. You could have the travel, like we said, leave your laptop somewhere, leave your phone somewhere and if it’s not protected in some capacity, that could be another disaster waiting to happen.

What else? Fire, of course, is always something really bad and the one that people don’t think about too often and we actually, at our company have had this, it didn’t affect us, it affected one of our customers, but theft. They walked in in the morning and every machine was gone. That’s unsettling, but in our case, in that case they went down to Best Buy, grabbed some new ones, were back up and running because they had a solution in place.

So disaster can strike in many ways and honestly, 90 percent of the small and medium sized companies that I encounter, I don’t know about you, Andy, but they are not prepared whatsoever. Their disaster plan is, “I’m holding my hands in the prayer position here.” That’s it. They hope and pray.

That is not a good plan, but by the same token, as a small business you have to be conscious of resources and you have to do something within the budget and something that’s going to make sense and something that you can adapt over time as you grow and possibly have more resources available. We are all in small business, and so that is essential that budgets that are not forgotten here because I could give you some great enterprise style solutions that will bankrupt you.

Let’s talk, then, about some solutions that customers, business owners, even freelancers who are doing side work, what kind of solutions would they like to look at for backup?

Andy: The oldest solution out there is the old copy everything over to a DVD, CD or USB drive, but all the examples you just listed, those are generally along with the other pieces of hardware that you lost. If your office floods, your stash of backups on DVDs is probably with it, or a fire’s going to take that out too, or your USB drive is in the bag that you left on top of you car. So those solutions, while generally the cheapest, don’t hold up very well.

Doug: They don’t hold up well unless you are very rigid about a plan to stash that data somewhere and take it off site on a regular basis or have somebody else in charge of it and maybe even take it out of your home, which generally doesn’t happen.

Andy: Most of the time probably not.

Doug: Right. So that is a hard media option where you back it up to something and hopefully store that somewhere else, but a DVD, you’re right actually. I haven’t thought of that in so long that that would be dirt cheap. So burn your entire stuff and store it somewhere else. Good. What’s next?

Andy: I’d probably up the technical ladder go with something like a time machine or a similar solution that it comes [within] your computer and backs up itself, basically.

Doug: Time machine, is that exclusively Mac?

Andy: Yes. I think some of the new Windows versions have something similar, but you still have the problem of you’re backing up to your own machine so while you might be able to recover a document you accidentally deleted, it’s probably not going to work if your hard drive fries or if you drop coffee on it or if you lose it off the top of your car.

Doug: So I use time machine, I’ve had it forever, and it was one of the first elementary backup solutions that I used when I had my own company years ago. I have an external terabyte drive and my time machine backs up hourly the changes, not the whole drive, but just the changes, and that terabyte drive is sitting about two feet from the computer. Yes, it is a backup solution if your hard drive bombs, but not a backup solution if there’s a problem at the house. It’s part of the way there.

Andy: Probably up the next rung in that ladder is probably a Dropbox, maybe. You can use Dropbox in two ways. You can use it as a backup solution or you can use it within your workflow, which we might talk about later, changing your work habits to work on stuff that’s in the cloud, on the cloud, rather than just storing your backups in the cloud.

Doug: Dropbox is a great solution that gives you two gigabytes free of storage, which that may be nothing in your world, or it may be all you need forever. Who knows. They also offer very affordable plans that get you up to 50 gigabytes and more. They even have a team plan that has terabyte plus for some number of dollars. Actually I read somewhere that it was unlimited for a certain price per month for your team, just ask. It’s on their website. It said, “Just ask for more.” Okay.

Then some other ones, for example, like there’s something like Mozy and Carbonite. Those are cloud based solutions that do a full dump of your hard drive, and I think attach drives that you tell it to index and backup. It takes awhile for the first time to happen because you have a lot of data and it’s going over your Internet connection and theirs on their receiving end. Great solution for almost no money. Sixty bucks, approximately, per year with no limits on storage.

Andy: I’m on Backblaze because I got a deal on that.

Doug: Similar?

Andy: Similar and it’s like maybe 50 bucks a year.

Doug: Fifty bucks a year for effectively unlimited backup offsite somewhere. The only thing I recommend with folks on that is if you need the data back in an emergency, if it was critical customer data or something, you may wait awhile to get it. By awhile, I mean possibly weeks because it takes . . .

Andy: Long as it takes to download it.

Doug: As long as it takes to download terabytes of data, and that can be challenging, and some of the higher plans that those places will actually, they’ll take a full dump of your data and send it to you in either, I guess, a hard drive or DVD, who knows what, but they’ll actually send you the data rapidly so you can avoid that. Usually that’s more money.

Andy: All these solutions work great if you’re a one man shop or you have one computer or what not, but when you get up to more than one computer and you try to do a recovery on each computer from these cloud backups, then that one to two weeks that you just said compounds, based on how many computers you have.

Doug: These things get very cumbersome beyond one person, in my experience. I think you’re dead on. That’s when you start needing to explore some alternative. Some more business oriented alternatives. What about Drobo? Have you ever heard of, if you haven’t heard of that, it’s pretty nifty. Andy, you either have one or you . . .

Andy: I have one, but they have a network one so you can just plug it into a network, but it’ll just backup, kind of like time machine, it’ll just backup to these hard drives and then the hard drives inside the machine replicate each other so if one of the hard drives in the Drobo fails, all your data’s still on another one and you can just swap in a new hard drive whenever you need to. Again, that doesn’t get you past, “What if the whole office blows away?” Drobo is going to go with it unless it’s somewhere else, but most of the time those are onsite backup solutions as well or sharing solutions.

Doug: Who does both? Is there a box that does it local? I’ve seen some. I can’t remember some names. What does the local plus sends it out to the cloud.

Andy: I’ve seen that. I’m not sure on who exactly does. I think Drobo might be coming out with something like that to where it’s backed up locally and then they back that back up to the cloud somewhere.

Doug: I think I read that too, and I know there are other solutions out there for it. Everyday I just saw something, the name escapes me because there’s just too many out there, but it’s a box that you plug into your home network and apparently it has some hardware inside of it that goes out and sucks in all the pictures and media off of everything in the house.

Andy: I’ve heard of those too.

Doug: I don’t know what it’s . . .

Andy: You hook it up to your wireless router, or something like that.

Doug: Yes. And it goes and finds things. It sniffs out your pictures and gathers them all up, I guess. I don’t know how, but it does. Yeah.

Andy: Sounds a little shady though.

Doug: It does. It’s a little slim shady. So what else do we need to look at and back up as you go up the line? We talked about Drobo being a data striping type mechanism where there are multiple drives, the data is painted across them and without getting technical, because nobody really cares, that’s a basic RAID type, Redundant Array Inline, what is it called? Redundant, what is RAID? You don’t even remember, do you? Redundant . . .

Andy: I quit memorizing acronyms.

Doug . . . Array Inline Drives, or In-something Drives. I don’t know. Somebody’s going to put it in the comments, I’m sure, because I just don’t care anymore, and there are various levels of that where you can have the data striped across five drives or seven or whatever.

Andy: That’s pretty much what the Drobo does inside and you don’t have to deal with it. It’s pretty old technology though. It used to be used in servers a lot so in case a hard drive failed there was a backup one.

Doug: Then if you go beyond that, then you’re talking about more enterprise stuff like tape backups and you’re rotating tapes through and those can hold large amounts of data, but then it’s a little less granular to go back and get. You might have a week long tape backup, then you go and store it offsite and things get more expensive and more cumbersome as you go up the ladder for backup solutions, which is why a lot of small businesses just . . .

Andy: Don’t do it.

Doug: . . . like your health, or your waistline, a lot of things just drop. You just don’t have time. Any other backup solutions before we move on to the . . .

Andy: I don’t think so.

Doug: I’m sure there are 100, so just do a Google search, online backup.

Andy: Anything’s better than nothing. If you are doing DVD backups, it’s better than not having a backup at all. Easiest solution’s probably your Mozy, or Backblaze or one of those that just does it in the background, or Time Machine, but again, that works well with one computer, but when you go on into a whole network of computers in an office, or a company that doesn’t scale well.

Doug: Exactly. Moving into how backup and cloud and all of this stuff goes into more of your day to day life, I don’t know if that’s a good segue but I was talking to Andy before we started our recording this morning about a person who came to me and started talking to me about how they run their business, and they mentioned to me that, of course I asked the question, “What are you doing for backup, and how many machines are you using, and how do people work?”

In our world, all we do is ask a bunch of questions for about 30 or 45 minutes and all of a sudden usually a light will come on and that light was, I asked a bunch of questions about how they’re working and what I was told originally was, “We’re working in the cloud.” I said, “Fantastic. That sounds,” in the cloud, by the way, means a lot of things to a lot of people. Sometimes that means you’re using Gmail. Sometimes that means you use Dropbox. Sometimes that means you, I don’t know. What else? I get my music from . . .

Andy: Google docs.

Doug: . . . Google docs. I get my music from Amazon streaming service or whatever they call it. That’s the set up. This potential customer, business owner, they are in the cloud with Google Apps, the paid Google Apps where their domain name is So the questions begin. You must be using Google’s word processing, right? No. I use a Word doc. I create a Word doc on my local machine, and then I save it. I say, “If you’re using Google then you probably save that up to Google drive.” Not sure what Google drive is. “Okay.” “So what do you do with it?” “I save it on my local hard drive.” Okay. “So is anybody backing up their local hard drive?” “We have one out of six on Carbonite.”

Then we talked. The workflow went on and on and so the net was, there were six people working on six independent machines, some of them are Macs, some of them are PCs and they are doing everything local and when they go to share something, they’re e-mailing it to each other and you know the personal hell of living in e-mail with different versions.

Andy: Oh, yes.

Doug: And if it’s six users, imagine 60 and iterations of documents and things and that workflow, we went along and that workflow exposed itself and that just lead me down a pathway with this particular individual of, “Let’s get you some kind of baseline backup. I don’t care what it is for the other machines, let’s figure out a way and then let’s really address the root cause and that is you have a cobbled together group of stuff and you’re not using the cloud.”

There are lots of different solutions to that, but getting the cloud and using it to your advantage many times is much more of a behavioral change plan than it is a technology plan. In my world, I don’t know. Do you experience that in what you do? It’s not necessarily about the technology. It’s all about the behavior?

Andy: Right. And how everything works together. If it’s not dead simple, it just doesn’t get adopted. No matter what you say.

Doug: So Andy, let’s wrap this up and talk about some basics that a small to medium size company owner should be thinking about when it comes to ensuring that their business has continuity if something were to go wrong. So what is absolute baseline step one?

Andy: Step one is just to have those backups that we talked about. It doesn’t matter the method or how you do it, just that it’s somewhere, and then step two is to have a plan on how to recover that information once it’s saved.

Doug: Absolutely. So the basic thing is get the backup going, get the base elemental level of backup and then have a plan and the plan also should include things beyond the base of just technology. This is a hard one to get through to people, but imagine if there’s some kind of massive outbreak, or we’re having flu right now. Imagine if everybody has to work somewhere else or if we had some kind of bird flu or something, so don’t forget.

And if there’s a major power outage or something, imagine what that’s going to do to your facility for seven days in a row. Do you need a generator? Do you need alternative work locations? How is the communication plan going to go if all you have is text messaging with a dropped off cell tower, a temporary cell tower? Having that kind of a plan too often gets missed. What else do they need to know for basic disaster recovery planning?

Andy: Planning how you’re going to communicate with your teammates and your customers, I think, is a big one. Not only communicating on business but letting your customers know that you’re having, obviously, technical issues which they’re probably having too if it’s a major disaster, but just having a clear path of communication to let everybody involved know that there’s a situation going on, and this is how we’re going to communicate through that situation.

Doug: Exactly. Just the basics, again, the elemental stuff. Think about this too. Think about money. If your bank is unavailable in a disaster for a couple of weeks, do you have a way to get paid? I had somebody tell me that their bank was offline for a month. That was a big situation, but their bank was offline for a month. Think about that.

Andy: Not so hot, right?

Doug: Not a good thing. The other thing to remember is this isn’t like the life insurance scare stuff, this is true business planning, and if you’re a small company, even one to five people, you’ve got to take this stuff seriously or you’re going to be in potentially deep doo-doo because the FEMA data that we’ve seen comes back to say that, I think the last I saw was something on the order of 60-some odd percent of businesses don’t reopen, maybe it was less than that for don’t reopen period after a major event.

In our world, Cedar Rapids flooding, think about the restart everybody had to go through over there. Then after that, within 18, I think it was over 60 percent within 18 months are out of business who experience a natural disaster of critical data loss. We don’t want you to be a statistic. Period. Get yourself a backup solution. If you have questions about anything we talked about today, I’m sure we’ll put some of these links in the post and in the transcript and if you have any questions, of course, you can always reach Andy, where can they find you best, Andy?

Andy: E-mail

Doug: Of course, you can always find me at either or, or just about 1000 different places over the web. Same thing with Andy. Just do a search for Iowa ninja, see what happens, but I think you’ll find him there.

Andy: That’s a good one. I wonder if I [inaudible 21:26].

Doug: Go buy it real quick. This is not live, so it’s okay. Anyway, thank you for listening to the inaugural Scalecast. We appreciate it and you have yourself a great day. Be safe. Be safe with your data. We’ll see you next time.

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email