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A Beginner’s Guide To Backup For Project Managers

A beginner's guide to backups for project managers

This is a guest article by Mauricio Prinzlau.

Are you backing up your project and personal files effectively? Today’s practical option is a cloud storage solution.

There are various types of data backup techniques. Conventional backup techniques use tape, DVDs and USB connected devices.

Conventional backup techniques are now complemented by the availability of cloud-based backup. Cloud storage makes up a competitive option for data backup. Due to improvements in networking and the quality of internet connectivity, cloud based backup options have gained market share and are in fact superior to onsite backup in most applications.

Project managers typically have to work with a number of stakeholders ranging from clients and vendors to senior management and internal customers. Project data and documents are accessed not only by employees, but also sometimes by others. So, as a project manager, what do you need to know about backup?

Why Backups Matter

Whatever the type of project that you are managing, internal or external, services or product delivery, technology heavy or not, data backups are part of standard procedures in most companies to cover the risk of data loss, data corruption and theft.

There are several plausible scenarios which expose these risks, from fire to flood and burglary. Even where the organization does not have a standard process step for backup, it is incumbent upon you as a project manager to ensure that all data related to your project is being backed up at regular intervals.

While DVDs are easily transported around, tape drives can store very large volumes of data. USB-connected devices are as portable as DVDs, while having higher reliability from not being susceptible to scratches and enable more robust handling.

External hard drives work exactly like regular hard drives and are able to provide significant amounts of storage at low cost and high reliability. (Note from Elizabeth: [amazon text=I use this one&asin=B005J7YA3W].)

Which Type of Backup Does Your Project Need?

Given the number of choices available, these are some aspects you should consider when trying to decide which type of backup to use:

What is the volume of the data that needs to be backed up?

For very large volumes of data, it would be appropriate to tap one of the conventional backup methods like tape, DVD’s, external hard drives and USB devices.

There are some guidelines that have been made available by an analyst named Russ Fellows working with the Evaluator group that might help. What Russ recommends is to use conventional backup methods when the data volumes in question are more than 100GB per every 1Mb in network bandwidth. He recommends cloud storage backups only when data volumes are less than that. This would mean that a 6Mbps network connection can support cloud data-backup only if the amount of data to be transferred is less than 600GB. Anything more than would push you to the side of conventional backups.

What recovery time do you need for your data?

If your data needs to be recovered quickly, conventional backup techniques are better since data transfer rates are much higher with conventional techniques when compared to cloud based backup services, which are limited by network speed.

What is the projected growth rate of your data?

The guidelines from Russ Fellows indicate that only conventional backup techniques are suitable for environments with growth rates amounting to more than 10% of the data volume each month.

With projects that have a fixed end-date (assuming you are backing up project-related data, not data related to the deliverable that the project is creating), you shouldn’t have to worry about it growing too far too fast for 99% of projects.

The Cloud Storage Option

Cloud backups are also called online backups. Cloud backup services are operated from remote servers and locations. The cloud site is typically operated by a vendor and may be public, private or proprietary.

Backup programs run regularly in order to execute backup, collecting and transferring data to remote servers. The data is compressed and encrypted if needed before transfer.

4 Cloud Backup Benefits

The chief benefits of cloud based backup services are:

  1. No hardware costs are incurred
  2. Even businesses with a small number of IT staff can manage data backup
  3. Better operational outcomes and accountability
  4. Flexibility with regards to storage requirements

Public, Private or Hybrid? How To Choose The Right Cloud

These are the various sub-types of cloud based backup services:

Public cloud

Here, the vendor cloud site serves many businesses and organizations, not only yours. The services may be offered based on free or paid models. The primary benefit from using public cloud backups is that they are fairly cheap since they bank on shared storage.

But is shared storage right for your project? We’ll look at the considerations in a moment.

Private cloud

A private cloud is designed for the backup requirements of one business in particular. It utilizes proprietary architecture elements to do so.

Hybrid cloud

A hybrid cloud is designed using a combination of public, on-premise and private clouds to meet your business’s specific requirements.

These are some aspects you should take into account once you have decided to go for cloud based backup at your business.

  • If your environments impose stringent restrictions on data sharing or stiff service level agreements, you should go for a private cloud.
  • If your business needs storage to be ramped up in somewhat ad-hoc fashion, a private cloud service would be the right choice.
  • If your IT budgets are limited and your data privacy-related requirements are minimal, a public cloud would be a great option.
  • If you have backup requirements that are very specific, you have IT budgets available to provide for additional managerial costs and are able to absorb the high cost of developing and maintaining complex systems, you should go in for a custom built solution based on a hybrid system.

While data backup has always been a critical function, its importance has gone up manifold due to a couple of reasons. One, the sheer volume of data being collected and accumulated in the average project is immense. Also, regulatory requirements have shot up.

Both conventional and cloud based backup services are available for adoption, each with its own unique advantages.

About the author: Mauricio is the lead Cloud expert at Cloudwards.net, a data and user feedback driven comparison engine for cloud storage, online backup and VPN apps and services. In addition, He also loves producing educational videos and reviews to help people get the best services of their needs. Get in touch with him on LinkedIn.

This article was kindly sponsored by Cloudwards.

A beginner's guide to backups for project managers

About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.

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