Cloud backup saves data after fire destroys school

Data from The Academy secondary school in the seaside town of Selsey was restored just hours after a fire destroyed most of the premises, thanks to a cloud backup agreement set up a year earlier

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The decision of the IT manager at The Academy secondary school in Selsey to move data backup to the cloud paid off after a fire destroyed buildings that housed its server racks.

Just two weeks before the new school year began, a fire ripped through the 400-pupil school. The fire destroyed most buildings, including the server room. It was accidentally started by a roofer, according to local reports.

But thanks to a third-party cloud backup agreement arranged a year earlier, all of the school’s data was available just hours later.

Following his attendance at the 2015 British Educational Training and Technology (Bett) trade show, IT manager Daniel Sapseid decided to outsource the school’s data backup to Redstor’s Backup Service for Schools to store over 1TB of student and staff data. It was implemented in July 2015 as backup to the school’s on-premise data storage.

As part of the service, the IT team receives daily emails once a backup is completed successfully. “On the Sunday morning, I got a call telling me the school was on fire and 80% of it was destroyed,” said Daniel Sapseid. “But I had the peace of mind that all the data was backed up.”

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Sapseid said he dreads to think about the data that could have been lost: “After the fire, my attention was drawn to the confidential student and staff data that we hold. It goes without saying that I don’t even want to think about what the consequences of losing all that information would have been. The head teacher called me up that evening to ask if we had backed up all student data. It was clearly a relief that we had.”

Despite the destruction caused by the fire, the school was able to restore all critical data within two hours and had access to all student and staff data in less than 10 hours. Student data included GCSE coursework.

Within three weeks of the fire, the school was able to find temporary locations in the town for classes, and student and staff data was intact.

Location of the server rack in the charred remains of The Academy, Selsey

Prior to the cloud backup agreement, the school had used traditional tape-based backups. The problem with this method was that it could take two days for a full backup.

“I would often leave the backup process to complete over the weekend and then take the tapes home with me. Looking back, I see it wasn’t the most efficient way to store critical student data, as a large part of my time was spent ensuring the backups had been completed in the first place,” said Sapseid.

The cloud-based backup from Redstor automatically protects data on desktops, laptops, servers and network-attached storage devices. Data is compressed, encrypted and sent to one of Redstor’s datacentres, before being copied to a second.

Data recovery can be done via an intuitive interface, or, for large datasets, data can be securely couriered back to site for local, high-speed LAN-based recovery.

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