Back It Up: A Look At Flash Drive & Off-Site Data Backup Options

Can you put a price on your data? Probably not, but if you lost it, you’d probably give anything to get it back. While it’s not the end of the world if data is lost due to nature, human error, or malicious acts, it is a headache that could have been prevented by proper backups either onsite, offsite, or both.

Depending on the volume at your pharmacy, a simple flash drive could suffice to house your pharmacy management software data and point of sale system data backups. There are multiple sizes of flash drives available on the market at affordable prices. For example, a 128GB SanDisk Flash Drive is available for less than $20 on Amazon.com. Select flash drives based on the size of your data base; if you are not sure what size you need, check with your IT department or ask your software provider for their recommendation.

To make remembering backups an easy task, set them to be automatic if the option is available. Just set the location of the flash drive in the software when configuring the auto-backups. Make sure the flash drive is plugged in when backing it up.

Another recommendation is to have multiple flash drives and switch them out at an interval of your choice. The ideal scenario would be to have one flash drive for each day of the week that is rotated daily. Other scenarios could be two flash drives switched daily, or you could have four or five flash drives that are rotated each week of the month. The reason for having multiple flash drives in use is to make sure that there are recent backups to restore in the event that a flash drive becomes corrupt or unreliable. It is rare that a flash drive fails, but it’s better to be aware and prepare for a situation than to be caught off-guard.

Adding an encryption to a flash drive is another recommendation for further data protection. If the flash drive ends up in the wrong hands, that person won’t be able to access the HIPAA-sensitive data in the software backups. When a flash drive is not in use as the active backup, make sure it’s stored in a safe location like a fire-proof, water-proof safe, or a bank deposit box.

If your database is too large for a flash drive, you can house the backups off-site. The nice thing about off-site backups accessed online is that all you need is internet, just make sure you have the bandwidth needed to transfer the data files.

As an example of a low-bandwidth scenario, if you send large backup files overnight on low-bandwidth after your pharmacy closes, there is a chance that the backup process could still be in progress when you start business the next day. This scenario can bog down your system and slow it down to a frustrating pace, but this scenario can also be avoided with proper bandwidth.

Offsite backup locations are reliable because you don’t have to worry about hardware failure. They often feature a combination (if not all) of a redundant power supply, chiller systems, biometric security, and continuous monitoring. They are flood-proof, and in the event on an emergency, they use a generator and have fuel on-hand.

In the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, you can preserve your crucial data and prevent the loss of productivity with the right backup plan in place. Whether it’s a flash drive or online to an off-site location, having your data backed up is a responsible business decision.

Avoid any action with an unacceptable outcome.
– Nichols’ Fourth Law

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