What's Your Back-Up Plan?


Do you have a plan if your office communications come to a screeching halt?

Earlier this week, Google's Gmail product was hit with several hours of downtime. You may be using a different e-mail service at work, but no system is perfect. Do you have a plan if your office communications come to a screeching halt?

Gmail was down for about 2.5 hours in the early morning hours on Monday. Most of the regions affected were in Europe. Google blamed the outage on a maintenance goof that took a set of servers offline at the wrong time. That's a small consolation to anyone who was left without access to their inbox.

There's not much anyone can do to prevent such outages from occurring, but you can take several small steps to make sure you're on the best possible footing if/when they do.

First, whether you're using Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, or any other e-mail service, be sure to back everything up. That means a system-wide back-up of the e-mail servers themselves, as well as a local back-up on end user machines. This way, you're double protected. If the servers crash, restoring them with the latest back-up can save your business from losing valuable e-mails. Likewise, if users don't have access to the email servers, they'll be able to get at their messages even when the system is down as long as they have their inbox backed up on their local hard drive.

Microsoft Exchange and Outlook make this pretty easy with archiving tools built into the software. You can also have your IT department configure local back ups, too.

If you're using Google's Gmail to power your business's e-mail, there is another option. It recently gave users the ability to go "off-line." Once properly set, Gmail will download a certain number of your e-mails to your computer's hard drive for you on a continual basis. Right now, it appears to have an arbitrary default of about 60 days. That's actually a pretty decent amount of e-mail storage (if you even save that many e-mails). Most of the e-mails that you might need to have immediate access to are ones you probably received in the last 60 days.

If your organization is large, you might consider backing up off-site. This means if your facility is somehow crippled by an act of nature (tornado, hurricane, etc), you will still have access to a back-up of all your business's information. Your Internet and telecommunications suppliers will be able to help you determine which companies are best for your needs at backing up off-site.

Off-site back-ups may seem like a drastic step, but there are plenty of lessons to see why they are important. So, do you have a plan? If not, perhaps you should create one.

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