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Do you follow the 3,2,1 Rule for School Backup?

School backup is like insurance. The recovery of your school’s critical systems should not be considered as an ‘if’, but rather a ‘when’.

What would happen to your school’s data if your server system was hit by a major disaster? What if your main server cabinet was flooded, if the block caught fire, if the ceiling collapsed over the cabinet, or your server is stolen? Would your school recover easily from such a disaster? How long would it take to recover your systems required to allow staff and students to login, access their files, or get the student management, library and finance systems operational again?

Backup is like insurance. It’s something that we all hope is never required, but we simply cannot do without, and like insurance, it comes in many different types and costs. The recovery of your school’s systems from backup should not be considered as an ‘if’, but rather a ‘when’. WHEN a disaster happens, how long can your school operate without a server system? WHEN a disaster happens, how much data are you willing to lose?

Best Practice for your school’s backup is to follow the 3,2,1 rule. That is:

On-premise Server Systems can have a full system backup taken daily with data changes (or incremental backups) taken throughout the day. This backup should be to a separate location on-premise, ideally as far away from the production server system as possible.

But if a disaster strikes the production system, having your data backed up is only part of the solution. What is required for recovery? If the disaster means that the entire server system needs to be replaced, how long would this take? Hardware needs to be specified, ordered, delivered, installed and configured, and all of this before the restoration of the backup data can commence.

If you have a secondary server system, or disaster recovery server on-premise, this can be used to immediately start up the server systems from the school backup location and run these while the primary server infrastructure is repaired or replaced.

A copy offsite in the cloud completes the 3-2-1 school backup best practice, providing the ability to restore critical files if both locations on-premise are compromised, through something like a ransomware attack for example.

But how about data that is permanently stored in the cloud? How do we back this up? If you have a student management system or other critical data hosted offsite, ensure that they have a sound backup solution in place and that they can guarantee the recovery of your systems in case something within their infrastructure fails or they themselves are subject to a disaster.

Public cloud systems like Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps are commonly assumed to have built-in backups. They do not! Both platforms provide file change history recovery and basic data retention for up to 30 days if a file or folder is deleted, but if anything falls outside of the retention window, it is permanently lost. That is, unless it is backed up.

Cloud Platform Backup provides a cloud to cloud backup solution that supports both Microsoft Office365 and Google Apps and encompasses files and folders, emails, calendars, and can be extended to include shared data locations like Team Drives or SharePoint.

As with any insurance discussion, a school’s backup and recovery is a risk conversation. The key components are about identifying how much data you are willing to lose in the event of a disaster, and how long are you willing to wait until the systems can be restored in the event of a disaster? Once you have decided on these two factors, TTS can design and implement a suitable disaster recovery and backup solution for your school.

Backup considerations for schools

On-Premise to On-Premise Backup

What is it? School server(s) backed up to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device.

Where is it? The NAS should be geographically separate from the server (stored in a different physical location / other building).

How often does it run? It completes a whole server backup at least daily. It is best to have it run the backup out of normal operational hours.

What backup software is required? TTS recommends StorageCraft’s ShadowProtect (annual licence). And for large school/server requirements then we recommend Veeam Backup and Replication (academic pricing available)

What does it offer? It gives your school the ability to restore your servers from the most recent backup.

Considerations: This will enable you to restore if the server fails, or there is a disaster where the server is located e.g. a fire/flood in that building. Because the NAS is located in another location then this can be used to get a new server up and running. However, if the whole school was affected e.g. an earthquake and you were unable to retrieve the NAS device then you are unable to restore unless you have a cloud backup in place as well.

Note: for macOS devices (i.e. admin computer) it is recommended that you use Apple’s Time Machine to backup to an external hard-drive.

On-Premise to Cloud Backup

What is it? Critical systems such as your SMS, Financial, Library databases are backed up to the Cloud.

Where is it? Secure and reliable datacenter storage that is significantly geographically separate from the school

How often does it run? At least weekly, but preferably daily.

What backup software is required? TTS Cloud Backup solution (monthly) which uses a Third Party platform on a Windows OS machine. And for large school/server requirements that use Veeam Backup and Replication, Veeam Cloud Connect can provide full server offsite backup.

What does it offer? Secure off-premise, providing the school the ability to restore critical systems from the cloud.

Considerations: It can scale to any size; minimum storage starts at 10GB retained data.

However, it doesn’t back-up Google or Microsoft O365 files.

Cloud to Cloud Backup

What is it? Facility to backup your school’s public cloud platform e.g. Google or Microsoft O365

Where is it? Secure and reliable datacenter storage.

How often does it run? Daily and provides perpetual data backup.

What backup software is required? Spanning Backup is recommended (annual licence).

What does it offer? It integrates through the Google Marketplace or Office 365 Enterprise applications and backups Google Drive / OneDrive, your Calendar and Email.

Considerations:  To backup the Google/Microsoft Teams or Sharepoint drives, 90% of staff need to be licensed.

Google and Office 365 will give you a 30 day recovery window BUT this is not a backup.

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