Our Xero Back Up Decision…

Data Protection, News, Software,

In a recent post, we told the story of a business we know who was caught up in a cyber attack, and lost all of its data. The data was mirrored on two servers, but the entire data centre was hit, and it was only because they had internal back-ups that they were able to rebuild their infrastructure and get their customers back up and running with just a couple of down days.

You can read that story, and find the latest guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre here.

We suggested as part of that post that clients review their current data security policies, and seek advice where appropriate, to reduce any risk to their business as far as possible.

Given that we’re no different to any other business, we’ve been doing the same!

We’ve added another level of back-up to our Xero records.

Xero do a great job of minimising down time on the system, and have policies in place to protect the data within the system. Our view though is that even ignoring the risk of cyber attack, there are other reasons why having a back-up might be helpful, as follows:

1 Human Error

Though we are Xero Certified, we’re still human, and that brings a level of risk! Xero can’t prevent us doing something stupid and deleting a range of data that we didn’t mean to, or making the wrong change to our chart of accounts. By having a back-up of our data, we can stay clam and roll back to that, rather than have to reconstruct or rewind the clock, line by line.

For our clients, human error by a new or inexperienced employee isn’t unheard of either! Finding out after an employee mistakenly makes a huge error is much easier to contend with if you can calmly restore a back-up.

2 Sabotage

Thankfully, this is unlikely for us, as we don’t have a team, but for many business owners who do this should be a concern. Xero cannot roll back your records if a disgruntled employee decides to make a lasting mark on your business by deleting your sales records for the last six months because they didn’t get the pay rise, promotion or extra hours they wanted.

Sounds dramatic? We’ve known it happen, albeit some years ago.

Limiting access helps to prevent this to a point but having a back-up can limit the impact dramatically.

3 Testing

Xero has the demo company that you can use as a sand box to play in before making changes to your live data, which is really helpful, but at some point you have to move to the real system. By having a back-up you could move to a new organisation in which you can trial the App or the strategy change to see what impact it might have, without having to later unpick all of the changes if it doesn’t bring the results you hoped!

4 Quality Assurance

A requirement of many Quality Marks is that you can prove the integrity of your planning and the security of your business critical data. Your accounting records fall squarely within that category!

If Xero is unavailable, or any of the above scenarios become reality, you can show that you have a credible plan in place to continue.

5 Just because!

As the world becomes more reliant on cloud software, ransom wear attacks are only going to increase. The business mentioned in our opening paragraph thought they were doing all that they could, but they were still open to the impact of an attack on a third party. By taking control of their own data, by having backups that were completely outside of the affected data centre and handled themselves, they protected their business.

The peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have a daily back-up of your data is priceless when or if you come to need it.

What ARE your back-up options?

We’ve talked throughout this post about Xero, but we have clients using Quickbooks too, and other software solutions. In the same way as those packages offer different solutions, the back-up options differ too.

Xero Users

The majority of our clients use Xero, so we’ll look at that first.

We’ve used a company called ‘MoveMyBooks’ for many years to migrate date into Xero from other options. They have a back-up solution for Xero data which is available through ‘Back Up My Books’. It is this option that we have chosen for the Xero data for our business.

Cost: £5+VAT per month (7 day free trial)

  • Set-up took less than the advertised five minutes and was very simple.
  • Payment can be via Direct Debit or credit card.
  • We chose to include attached files (so invoices etc that we may have attached to payments) for no extra cost.
  • Back-ups are taken and stored in the system between 2am and 6am in your time zone every day.
  • You can go back to an earlier back-up, or look at the last.
  • You can download these files every day to your own storage if you prefer to have them locally.

Find out more here.

Quickbooks Online Users

‘Rewind’ seems to be the credible option for backing-up Quickbooks, but we must point out that we haven’t used them personally, as we don’t use Quickbooks ourselves.

Cost: $14 per month (7 day free trial)

  • Manage multiple client files
  • 7-day free trial
  • Daily comprehensive backups
  • Unlimited restores
  • 365 days of version history
  • Help centre & email support
  • Back up anytime
  • Real-time backups

Find out more here.

If you’d like to know more about your options for back-up, we’d suggest speaking in the first instance to your IT advisors. We’re not technically able enough to advise beyond reminding you of the risks around your critical data and the two options above. There are other suppliers that you may prefer, of which we’re unaware, but we’ve gone with the one that we think best suits our business and thought we’d share that decision.

Please do make sure that you consider carefully the cost of such a solution against the potential risk. Reconstructing your records is a headache that none of us needs as a business owner! As ever, if you’d like to talk about this or any other aspect of your accounting records, please get in touch!

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