NEN Guidance on Data Backup and Recovery

This guidance document is for schools and academies and was uploaded in May 2022.

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. A Framework for Web Science (Foundations and Trends)

The word “precious” implies both value and fragility. For any organisation, the data it holds is valuable and critical to its operation. But it is also fragile: a simple mistake or software bug can wipe it all out with disastrous consequences.

Backing up data can protect it. If one copy is deleted or corrupted, it can be replaced with a backup. However, having a second copy will not get the system running if there is a complete hardware failure. That is the difference between Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR). Backups are purely about data; DR is concerned with the process of restoring a complete system after an outage.

This guidance document is mainly concerned with Backups, but some elements of DR are also included. It considers, for example, how whole servers (or virtual machines) can be backed up and how applications and configurations should be handled. Both fall more naturally into the DR area as these elements are not usually considered “data” but are essential for recovery after a major outage.

Download Backup Guidance as pdf