CUNA Council White Paper: As Data Evolve, Adjust Backup Plan
o A variety of backup strategies are available, from tape to virtual servers.
o The choice of backup strategies depends on particular needs that must be determined by individual credit unions.
The three case studies showed that data backup plans should be determined on a case-by-case basis, the report concluded. For instance, in order to store data critical both to its operations and member services, $279 million City County Credit Union in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently transitioned to full reliance on business continuity appliances that feature the ability to quickly get up and running on virtual servers. On the other hand, $358 million Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union in Westbury, N.Y., relies fully on tape backup, mostly because handing data over to a third party raises cost, security and accessibility concerns for the credit union. And $1.7 billion Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa, uses tape backup for its core processing system but maintains a disk-based backup system for its other systems to ensure quick data recovery.
Tape versus disk is at the center of the data backup plan debate, and there are pros and cons to each side, Bankston said in her report. The biggest downside to disk backup is cost, but the data retrieval process is faster, more efficient and more accessible. A tape backup system, which is physically stored off-site, is less costly from the get-go and often provides peace of mind; however, data takes longer to retrieve, can be prone to malfunctions and is more likely to be lost.
Once a credit union has determined a data backup plan strategy-which might include both tape backup and disk backup-three questions should be asked, the white paper said. First, is the data encrypted? Second, what's the backup plan to keep business operations running and restore data should it be lost? And third, is there a secondary site on which to operate and interact with members should the first one fail?
Encrypting data is essential, the report said, as is testing backup solutions. Testing should be done every couple of weeks, or every time the credit union upgrades or adds memory to a server.