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What administrative and support considerations should IT be aware of with our document imaging system?

Backup Discussion

Moving data to a digital format provides tremendous advantages to a business. It can not be over emphasized how important it is to protect that data. In fact, the more advantages the data brings, the more important it is to protect it.

Power Protection

At a minimum, the DIS-Imaging Server requires a UPS or uninterruptible power supply. This acts like a battery that kicks in seamlessly if there is a power outage. In the case of a power outage and the Server is not protected, the server will shut down instantly with possible corruption of its hard drive(s).

Often when the power goes off, it comes back on quickly, and causes a power spike. This can also occur from near lightning strikes and a number of other causes. A UPS will stop power spikes (like a surge protector but better) as well as compensate for power fluctuations.

Antivirus

All networks are open to virus attack. Even if not connected to the internet, data is brought into the system, which makes it open to attack. Having antivirus software in place and updated is crucial. Every workstation and server in the network should have antivirus protection.

Hardware failure

1. Lost Data
Hardware fails. Using top of line hardware minimizes the risk but all hardware can fail. The primary item that fails in a computer is the hard drive. Hard drives are composed of a number of moving parts, with the most important part, the platter, consisting of a disk which spins at very high speed on ball bearings. If a hard drive has a failure, usually the data on that hard drive is LOST.

2. Lost services

In addition you also lose the services it provided until it is fixed and the data is replaced.

How do you protect yourself from hardware failure? There are a couple different ways to do this. One is redundancy and another is near line backup. Best practices incorporate both of these methodologies.

1. Redundancy

Redundancy is a hardware solution that allows for uninterrupted or minimal interruption of services and no data loss in the event of a hardware failure. The three methods of achieving redundancy are RAID 1, RAID 5 and Failover technology.

  • RAID 1 is called mirroring. With Mirroring there is an additional hard drive for each hard drive in the computer. Every bit of data written to the primary hard drive is also written to the mirror hard drive. In the case of a hard drive failure the primary hard drive can be replaced by the mirror hard drive. This causes a minimal interruption of services. A properly maintained mirror installation can be recovered within minutes.


  • RAID 5 uses multiple disks to store data. Each disk holds part of the data as well as a copy of the data on the other disks. In the case of a hard drive failure the computer continues to operate normally. The "backup" data on the other hard drives is used until the faulty hard drive is replaced. This is more or less the industry standard.


  • FAILOVER uses another computer to provide redundancy. Specialized software is used that copies everything that happens on the main computer to be copied to the failover computer. In the case of the main computer failing (from hard drive or any other reason) the failover takes over the main computers functions allowing your network to continue functioning without interruption. Raid 1 and 5 only protect you from hard drive failure while Failover protects you from hard drive and any other (mother board, controller, power supply, etc.) failure.

2. Near Line Backup

Near line backup is a process where the data is copied to another device or computer on the network. This could be a separate server or workstation or it could be an external USB drive.

A near line backup can be very effective on a small network especially because with our system, you only need the documents themselves to have full functionality. If the main Server had a catastrophic failure and if the documents are in near line backup, they can be placed on a different computer and can be re-indexed. NOTE: The time loss for interrupted services depends on the number of documents to be indexed.

Disaster

Disasters are just that, disasters. This can include theft, fire, flood, hurricanes, tornadoes, and who knows what else. In this case the site where the network is located has been destroyed or compromised.

The only way to protect yourself from a disaster is to have a copy of your data OFF SITE. There are a number of ways to maintain a backup of your data off site.

1. Tape backup

Data is backed up to a tape each night and that tape is taken off site daily.

2. Other hardware backup

Similar to a tape backup, a system using USB drives could be used.

3. Off Site online backup service

Backups of you data can be taken over the internet. This has the advantage of not requiring an individual to physically take tapes or disks off site.

4. Off Site mirroring

Using technology similar to failover - the data on the main server can be replicated to an off site location in "real time", meaning that as soon as data changes on the main server it is replicated to the mirror site.

5. Off Site Failover

Using the same technology as the failover discussed in the redundancy section, the main server can be copied to a server in a different location. In the case of a disaster that server could then operate as the main server. This is an option for offices with multiple locations. If the main server is kept in location A, a failover server could be located at location B. In the case of a disaster at location A, users could work at location B using the failover server.




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