It’s a no-brainer for many who work in the accounting industry. But, for those who may need to take a fresh look at why accountants and CPA firms need data backups, and in fact require multiple revisions of backups, we wanted to post this article.
Special care must be taken with the backup of accounting files, where diligent data storage and replication is a must. Unlike typical word processing or spread sheet files, accounting files are extremely difficult to replace – something that is not fully understood by many computer technicians, but for SymTec, your accounting data backup specialists.
Often, a data backup solution that has been designed to handle general computer-user needs does not serve the special needs of an accounting application.
A common backup strategy is daily backup of all computer programs and data to an external hard drive. Should your computer stop functioning, repairs are made and information on the external hard disk is reloaded. This works fine for most word processing and spreadsheet files. A full computer backup is made each night, but as each new backup is begun, the prior day’s backup is erased.
Unfortunately, this constant erasing of the prior day’s backup is not an appropriate data backup strategy for CPA firms and their applications.
Accounting data sometimes must be restored from a backup that is several days old. Data may have become corrupt, with the corruption not being recognized right away. When the data corruption is discovered, the best action is often to restore from the last good data backup – not the most recent backup.
Another situation that occurs with accounting software is the need to reload data in preparation for an audit. Sometimes needed information has been purged. In this case the only way to retrieve the desired data may be to restore from a backup that is months or years old. It is difficult to reliably store these accounting backups of various ages if the only method of backup is a hard drive. To reliably store multiple accounting backups, removable media are needed.
One common backup method that uses removable media is the tape drive. A dozen or so tapes are rotated as daily backups are completed. The advantage of using multiple tapes is that data of various ages can be retrieved as the need arises. Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to using tapes. One disadvantage is that it can be difficult to find the needed accounting data. Suppose you want to restore last Thursday’s accounting. To do this you’ll have to search Thursday’s tape, sifting through perhaps thousands of files, to find the accounting data you are looking for.
So, what backup method is left for accountants and bookkeepers? The answer is USB Flash Drives. These drives are relatively inexpensive and very reliable and are as easy to use as a floppy or zip drive. Plug the drive into your computer’s USB port and then choose File / Backup, or simply copy-over files and folders to it, eject, and go.
Also, if your USB ports are hard to reach from your desktop, consider purchasing a USB extension cable or USB expansion box. This will allow you to add or remove your flash memory without straining to reach beneath your desk.
Another good method of data backup for accountants is to keep your data on several different flash drives, so if you need to restore from different days, that will be possible. In other words, rotate your backups and save your work to a different flash drive each day. It’s a good idea to have between 5 and 15 flash drives in your rotation. When you go home for the day, take the flash drive you just backed-up on home with you. This way you’ll always have an offsite data backup source.
In addition to using flash memory backups, an additional way to back-up your accounting data and the rest of the data on your computer is the Internet backup for CPA firms provided by SymTec. Ours is a secure and safe way for CPA firms to backup data to the Internet. Our service is even certified as being secure enough for medical records!
Why CPA Firms Need Secure Data Backup
In May of 2017, the ransomware known as WannaCry spread to hundreds of thousands of computers in about 150 countries. Ransomware usually enters the computer of an unsuspecting user. It starts to encrypt your files and then shuts down your computer. In order to retrieve your files, you need to pay the hacker money, or a ransom, to unlock your system.
For accountants, this warning should ring loud and clear. Accountants’ computer systems often contain much private information about the people and businesses they have as clients, such as: social security numbers, work and home addresses, banking information, and in many cases, passwords to access their clients accounting software.
A Unique Challenge for CPA Firms
Accounting files are generally much more difficult to replace than normal documents and spreadsheets. Therefore, it is good practice to back up the entire day to an external hard drive. So, when it is necessary to repair or replace a computer, the information from the external hard drive is simply reloaded to the computer.
CPA firms will want to do a full data backup each night and make sure the previous day’s backup is erased. The dilemma that this presents is that sometimes accounting data might need to be restored to match a certain day or transaction. So, if the saved data has been corrupted is some way, it may have been corrupted without anyone’s knowledge. Thus, the backup, purge, and repeat method will only perpetuate the problem of the corrupted data.
Additionally, CPAs routinely need to prepare for different types of accounting audits – including compliance audits. The information needed for the audit may have been eliminated from the system. Or, it may be necessary to try and restore from a data backup that is months or even a year old. To restore from a backup that is old is often problematic.
But, we can help.
Need Data Backup Services for Your CPA Firm?
What company today doesn’t require a trusted data backup advisor like SymTec? We’re private cloud computing specialists who can help you establish cloud backup services for accountants, and provide the needed 24/7 support to go with it.
As a Microsoft Silver Cloud Services partner, this is a great option for small businesses, and especially for CPA firms with data backup needs requiring extra care. We can also set you up need solid remote desktop services that are reliable and secure for your telecommuting staff.
We have all the data backup solutions for accounting firms that won’t fail you on security, compliance, or accessibility.
By ensuring your CPA firm has multiple revisions of backups and versioning of your backups, you’ll save yourself both time and money – and we will show you how.
We’re Only a Phone Call Away – Nationwide!
If you’re ready for a leader among business IT service providers who can help you with the right data backup solutions for CPA firms, then call our nationwide hotline at (800) 489-1706, or use our secure contact form to get started!