Common anti-disaster protection methods include the following:
- automated backups (allows restoration of data, if, or when, they are lost),
- off-site media storage,
- data mirroring,
- server replication (Electronic vaulting sends backups over telecommunication links to secure storage facilities. This approach eliminates labor costs and the needs to physically transport tapes. It ensures continuity by providing a reliable secondary infrastructure, also improves data integrity and shortens recovery efforts.),
- remote data replication,
- a virtual tape library that emulates multiple tape drives,
- snapshots of data at prescribed intervals.
Best practices for long-term data retention include the selection of standardized file formats, good management of metadata, the selection of media intended for long-term storage and proper housing, and regular inspection and maintenance of stored media.
- Metadata is a set of data that provides information about how, when, and by whom data are collected, formatted, and stored
- File metadata describes each file’s permissions, owner, group, ACLs, size, and so forth.
- System metadata is configuration information and each operating system has a different way of storing such information
- Metadata is essential to the creation and use of data repositories
Storage conditions must be climate controlled and free from electromagnetic interference to avoid degradation of media.
- A cold site is a commercial service that provides storage for backup materials or the capacity to handle the disaster-stricken facility’s computer equipment.
- organizational personnel are responsible for backup, dating, and labeling materials for storage.
- Cold site should be located in areas free from floods and tornadoes and at least 5 miles away from the agency to avoid disaster conditions.
- There are commercial firms that offer managed hosted site as a backup, which provide the servers, storage facilities, backup facilities, and communication links at reasonable costs.
The criteria for good backup system include:
- Backups must contain the requested data
- Backups must complete within the prescribed time frame
- Backups must occur as scheduled- full backup on some days and incremental on others, and
- Backups must be set to expire at the correct time
A “warm” site is a site with patient data that can be activated within 8 hours. This backup system should be capable of running the EHR if the home system fails. This warm site should be located at a distance as part of disaster planning, such as system failure that may result from natural events, such as hurricane, tornado, and flooding, as well as terrorist attacks. The location should be more than 50 miles away and more than 20 miles from the coast to lessen the chance that the same disaster would strike both facilities.
Managed hosting service providers offer continuous data backup, safeguarding against data loss while allowing for immediate recovery and restoration of services in the event of a disaster.
Post-disaster feedback is invaluable in revising disaster plans for future use and should be an integral part of continuity planning.