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The importance of Data Backup for schools amidst budget cuts

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 06:12
Data Backup

With school budgets suffering wave after wave of cuts, the ability of schools to make use of the latest IT solutions, services and technology is being adversely affected.

When schools review their shrinking annual budgets, one service that is unlikely to be overlooked is insurance. Building and contents insurance is something that all schools are willing to pay a premium for, after all if a disaster strikes, no building means no school.

The physical (building, desks, books, IT hardware) assets of a school are only part of the puzzle though, the remaining pieces of the puzzle are the school’s digital assets, its data (student records, digital lesson plans, coursework). So why do some schools not value these “digital assets” as much as they do the physical?

Insurance by its most simple definition is taking action to provide protection against a possible eventuality. Data backup and disaster recovery are strategies that all organisations, not just schools, must adopt to ensure the safety of their digital assets – they are insurance policies.

Why backup?

Protection of valuable data

Regardless of what data there is within an environment, there will be different stakeholders who will attribute value to data in different ways; factors which should be taken into account when a review of data management policies takes place. For example, a School Business Manager may be most concerned if they lost internal emails, SIMs data or FMS data; a teacher if they lost lesson plans; a student if they lost their coursework. While a school may not take responsibility for the loss or recovery of student data, having an intact backup of all data is the only way to securely protect each stakeholder from a potential loss.

In today’s data driven, privacy conscious environment, industry guidelines and legislation exists to direct all organisations in how they should protect data. This is particularly true for schools, given the sensitivity of the data they protect. Therefore, schools and educational organisations not only have to back up in case disaster strikes or because accidents happen, they also have extensive legislation to comply with.

Comply with SFVS

The Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) replaced the Financial Management Standard in Schools in September 2011 and was updated in 2015. Section 2 of Point 25 of the SFVS states that all Local Authority maintained schools must back up their data off-site daily to protect the school’s important IT systems. RBUSS ensures compliance with the Data Protection Act, ICO and SFVS guidance by guaranteeing that critical data is securely and automatically backed up offsite daily.

Comply with DPA / ICO

The Data Protection Act (DPA) is the legislation that governs data security for all organisations, schools, colleges and educational establishments included, and is enforced by the Information Commissioner’s office. The 7th Principle of DPA states: “You must have appropriate security to prevent the personal data you hold being accidentally or deliberately compromised”. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have also stated that “If inadequate steps have been taken for protection, it also amounts to a breach of the data protection principles”.

For those found to be breaching the Data Protection Act, the ICO has a range of powers from naming and shaming in the form of publicly published undertakings, the ability to issue monetary fines up to £500,000 per incident or to even pursue criminal prosecutions.

The DPA will be updated in the form of the GDPR coming into effect in May 2018. GDPR will introduce much more stringent punishment for failures to protect data.

Peace of mind – Implementing digital asset insurance

In late August 2016, the Academy, Selsey, a school that makes up part of The Kemnel Academy Trust (TKAT), suffered a disaster just one week before the start of term when a fire broke out during a roofing repair job. The fire destroyed 80% of the school site, including the server room..

Having made the decision to back up all of the school’s data securely offsite several months prior, The Academy, Selsey were able to recover all data that would have otherwise been lost to the fire.

The physical insurance after this disaster was vital but the effect of the fire would have been much worse if all the school’s data had been lost.

Redstor Backup Service for Schools

Redstor’s backup service for schools (RBUSS) is a Capita approved, fully automated, online backup and recovery service allowing schools and colleges to back up their data off-site, securely, over the Internet and/or dedicated IP links to secure, remote data centres.

Redstor currently deliver cloud-based data management and security services to over 12,000 schools with in the UK. As a software vendor all feedback from our user community is added directly into our development roadmap, with regular releases offering the latest software features on the market.

Having access to new and exciting features leads to further time and cost savings and allows teachers to focus on the task at hand, teaching. The intuitive recovery features also enable schools, academies and MAT’s to recover data faster and avoid down-time.

As all Redstor cloud services are designed with usability and scalability in mind, taking a chance to understand them needn’t be a time-consuming task. With access to Redstor’s UK based technical and support teams via phone, email or face to face getting a step by step guide couldn’t be easier.

 

 

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