To meet strict alarm management standards, including both those established by regulatory bodies and any ethical ones to which you hold your facility, backing up your data is vital. With proper protocols instituted, your staff can continue critical operations without sacrificing safety or business success.
Why backing up your data is important
To begin, well-designed and tested data backup protocols ensure your peace of mind. If you know you can restart your critical business processes at any time with a bare-metal recovery (basically plug-and-play recovery data, OS and software with separate hardware) and preserve data integrity, all within a known and acceptable time frame, you will sleep better.
Further, by backing up your data, you will always have access to critical business applications. Trying to manually access key data in other than a streamlined, effective way is unthinkable today, and may appear reckless. Remember that your employees and auditors want to know your data is safely stored at all times. Failure to provide this security can open your company up to claims, lawsuits and embarrassment.
An additional consideration is that having a robust backup plan in place saves you vital time and effort in a disaster or outage. A crisis is no time to ad-lib responses. Your response must be rapid, direct and correct.
Be sure to consult your legal team for details about regulatory requirements for backing up your data, storing it and recovering from disaster.
Best practices for smooth backup
Consider recovery time objective and recovery point objective
Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) values are key to building and managing a solid data backup program, and they operate hand in hand.
RTO defines the maximum time a critical system, application or hardware can be down after a failure occurs. It is the limit to how much your business can tolerate in days, hours or even seconds.
RTO can be calculated using the following steps:
- Complete an inventory of all systems, equipment and applications.
- Perform an impact analysis to determine the value of each output, and then estimate the financial impact per relevant unit of time. The total of all these values is the expected loss per unit of time for an outage.
- Now, determine how much time your company can lose before restoring operations. The time value associated with the maximum acceptable loss is the RTO.
- RPO is defined as the minimum age of files required to reestablish operations. These are the files that must be backed up. The file age constraint drives the frequency of backups. You need to perform and maintain an inventory of these critical files.
- With RTO and RPO in mind, you can prepare to provide the necessary parts of your backup plan.
Follow the 3-2-1 Rule
The 3-2-1 Rule is a time-honored maxim of disaster recovery practice. This rule calls for backing up your data within the following parameters:
- At least three copies of the data (one production copy and two backup copies).
- Storage of the backup data on at least two distinct types of media. Even with cloud-based services, make sure the data resides on two different servers.
- One backup set that is stored off-site, physically separated from everything else.
- For extra protection, provide an air gap (literally a complete physical separation) between the primary and one of your backup copies.
All these precautions mitigate the risk of data loss, and the separate servers add extra security against hackers.
By encrypting data and transmissions, you can safeguard against loss of confidential data and protect your operations and reputation.
Perform periodic backup audits
Just as in military operations, practice makes perfect. Business requirements and technology can change over time. Be sure to update and document backup and recovery plans automatically when those changes occur. Most importantly, run a test periodically to evaluate and document the results. Address any issues quickly and modify the plans accordingly. Establishing a rhythm and fluency of execution is invaluable.
Best practices for TiPS LogMate backup
The LogMate architecture simplifies the backup process to easily recover any installation, including a bare-metal restoration. With these objects backed up periodically, any LogMate installation will be operational with minimal downtime.
SQL Server weekly backups
For most LogMate installations, TiPS usually creates database maintenance jobs to secure the LogMate databases, which include the alarm and event databases, Alarm KB databases, and the TiPSView databases. One SQL Server job is usually created to perform a full backup of the databases at least once per week. For some customers, creating daily incremental backups can be scheduled depending on the availability of the control system source data.
Resource planning is important to provide enough disk space to store backups locally and provide an automated mechanism to copy the database backups to another media and potentially offsite location.
LogMate application configuration files
Each LogMate application has a configuration file to store encrypted connection strings and current configuration attributes. For Capture, the tips.ini file is located in the Windows folder. Signal has a signal.mdb file located in the TiPSLMFWSignal folder. A simple windows Task Scheduler action and a batch file can be created to copy important data to a local backup folder to be copied to another media and potentially offsite location with the SQL Server database backups.
Dissimilar bare metal recovery
With a backup of the SQL Server databases and LogMate application configuration files, any LogMate installation can be easily restored even if the operating system and SQL Server are later versions than the backup files. Our products are designed to recover installations with minimal downtime or provide easy migration to newer servers. Let TiPS Support take that burden away from you.
Protecting alarm management data
Protecting configuration and event data is crucial to maintaining effective alarm management. Not backing up your data before a disaster recovery event can leave gaping, unfillable holes in your program. Failures and losses follow.
Plan ahead and look into software solutions that help protect you against data loss.
TiPS LogMate, a full-featured alarm management and event historian platform, with its consolidated configuration settings, is the solution for easy-to-make and easy-to-restore alarm management data backups.
For a technical consultation, contact us today!