As head of the IT department here at Decision One Dental I constantly work on a plethora of different network setups as every office is unique to walk into for the first time. Every office will have its quirks and user requirements based on the employees and doctors whom work there. With such requirements comes tons of different software and hardware pieces that create very delicate infrastructures that are often not ideal to work with or to keep working smoothly. That is why I am here today to state that above all we must always take a step back, and back it up.
Let’s start with the most important thing owners can do no matter where they work, actively backing up your data! Ensuring your data is backing up is paramount to ensuring your company has a safety net should the worst occur, and the key here is “ensuring”. Actively checking your backups say once every week or 2 is a must. I have walked into multiple offices that have claimed to have great backups set up for them by previous skilled IT personnel and all they need to do is switch out the external hard drives on certain days. This is a great plan, it ensures multiple backups are actively working in case 1 fails, but I am amazed how often I find that these hard drives haven’t been updated with new data in months or years. The software process at some point may have stopped working and since the other programs running on the server seemed unaffected, employees never checked up on the backups, they simply assumed it was still working. Usually to check you simply need to see if the data files in question have a new “date modified” and have up to date file sizes. Never assume things as important as your backups are just working, checking the data to make sure it is up to date is super quick and necessary.
Just as well it’s important to keep multiple backups, personally at least 1 local and 1 cloud backup is a must. There are many great different backup programs on the market, both free and paid, that can ensure your data is HIPAA secure and ready when you need it. I also recommend using separate software for your local and cloud backups to ensure a defect found in 1 backup isn’t carried to the others. Most are very simple to use, often having alerts showing the last back up date or failure that occurs. Having a local backup ensures you have something that is physically there to check up and transfer to another computer if necessary. Local backups are often much faster to download and upload data to as well. The cloud backup ensures that in worst case moments like a fire, natural disaster, or even a power surge that your data is still secure. So both still have their merits.
Last tip will be to start off fresh and often. Most users will get complacent with their backup process and let it continually build up incrementally, but it is good practice to create new full backups to consolidate this data. In doing so the old backups can be deleted and a new process can begin again. This saves data space and ensures the integrity of the data itself. Backups are often the last line of defense against the worst, keep them up to date!