Best Practices for Onsite Installation of Online Backup Software
Some Service Providers who offer a fully managed service like to install the Online Backup software themselves during an on-site visit with their customers. These Service Providers deliver the most personalized service and command the highest prices.
The Online Backup Guide for Service Providers is a complete 196-page guide on starting and operating an Online Backup Service – the latest revision of Rob Cosgrove’s industry defining RBS Book originally published in 1987. The entire book is being published here, chapter by chapter.
Test Your Server – Before going on site, make sure your Online Backup Server is on and functioning properly.
Create Accounts – If required, create accounts in advance – one account for each installation of the Client software. Record the account login information and take it with you.
If you use the Registration Wizard PlugIn for RBackup (highly recommended) you do not need to create accounts in advance. The PlugIn creates them for you during installations.
USB Memory Stick – Take a USB memory stick with you.
Locate Data Files – Inventory the applications whose data needs to be backed up. Locate the data files.
Categorize Files – Separate the files into three categories: Critical, Important, and Archival.
Determine RTO and RPO – Determine the customer’s Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives for each category.
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the acceptable amount of time between the loss of data and its recovery. If there is too much data (because of bandwidth) to download from a service based out of the area, and the service is too far away to deliver a USB drive to the customer, you have an advantage by being close enough to your customer to make the RTO very short.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the amount of data a business is willing to lose, in hours or days. If a business does not keep paper records of all transactions, it may never be able to recover data that is lost between backups. Can the staff enter a week’s worth of transactions from memory? The more often backups are done, the shorter the RPO can be.
Test Internet Speed – Test your customers’ upstream and downstream speed at a web site like DSLReports (www.dslreports.com). Your customer will use his UPSTREAM (slower) speed when doing backups, and his DOWNSTREAM (higher) speed when doing restores.
You might want to use my Online Backup Estimator. You can download it free at the following URL:
Install Software – Install and activate the Online Backup software on each computer that needs it. Each Server will need its own copy of the software and (usually) its own account with your Online Backup server.
Set Encryption Keys – Some Service Providers who offer a fully managed service accept responsibility for their customers’ encryption keys. If you do, assign strong encryption keys.
Save Key File – When RBackup asks you to save the Key File, save it to a folder on a USB memory stick. Use a different folder for each computer.
Print Key Form – When RBackup asks you to print the Key Form, print it. If there is no printer attached to the computer, record the information on the form some other way. You should have both the Key File and the Key Form. Either alone will suffice to restore data after a disaster, but it is good practice to have both.
If your customer wants to keep his own Encryption Key, allow him to enter it while you look away. Tell him to save the Key File and print or otherwise record the information on the Key Form.
If you are using RBackup (highly recommended) you might find the Advanced Interface easier and quicker to work with than the default Simple Interface. Don’t forget to switch it back to the Simple Interface before leaving.
RBackup contains an exclusive Key Escrow function, which is ON by default. If you do not turn it off, this feature will triple encrypt the customer’s Key File and transmit it to your Online Backup Server in a secure Escrow File, where it is stored in case of a disaster after which the end user forgets his Encryption Key. Only RBS can access the Escrow File, and can only do so with written permission of both the Service Provider and the Customer, and only if the Service Provider’s Server is intact. The recovery process is only 70% effective, and costs $500 to initiate. I recommend you remember the Encryption Key instead.
Test Connection – Do a “Test Connection” to make sure the software has a connection with your Online Backup Server. This also tests your account settings, and alerts you to any issues with Firewalls.
Create Backup Sets – Create backup sets based on the examples earlier in this chapter. For each backup set, select a Start Time and Backup Window that will not interfere with the normal operations of the business. Set backups to start at least 2 hours after the normal close of business, and set the Backup Window to end about two hours before the business opens.
Perform Bulk Backup (if needed) – If you have determined that the first full backup will take too long (based on my Estimator or your own calculations), do the first full backup to a USB drive. In RBackup, this is done using the Copy to Disk function on the Run menu.
Copy Bulk Backup – When you return to your Online Backup Server, copy the data from the USB drive according to the instructions in the software’s documentation.
Rob Cosgrove is the President of Remote Backup Systems, founder of the Online Backup Industry, and a vocal advocate for maintaining the highest standards in Online Backup software. His latest book, the Online Backup Guide for Service Providers: How to Start and Operate an Online Backup Service, is available online now, on Amazon.com, and at bookstores.
Remote Backup Systems provides brandable, scalable software and solutions to MSPs and VARs enabling them to offer Online Backup Services.