UK secondary schools ignore data backup rules

It has emerged that a significant proportion of secondary schools in the UK are failing to meet the data backup guidelines laid out by government agency Becta.

In a recent study of over 100 schools around the country, in which the network managers were questioned on a variety of topics, it was found that many schools were failing to backup their data to remote servers. This contravenes the requirements of Becta rules.

The report also identified that data storage needs for an average school will jump by 75 percent in the near future, with an additional 1.5 terabytes of space required by 2012. This is expected to put a strain on budgets and resources across the board.

A third of all respondents also revealed that their schools were inadequately prepared for data loss and storage failure as they had still neglected to invest in off-site data replication.

A spokesperson for RM Education, which ran the survey, explained that the focus of the study had been on storage requirements in educational establishments. Jon Gould said that a bigger picture had emerged, illustrating the different attitudes towards data backup throughout the educational system.

Gould indicated that the Becta rules for data backup in schools had not been changed for five years and that there have been calls to reassess and improve the guidelines. He also confirmed that many schools are unaware as to their obligation to copy all of their data to a remote location to avoid destruction as a result of fire or environmental damage to the schools themselves.

Schools are advised to set out disaster recovery planning and backup contingencies, as well as keeping a record as to how frequently the data is backed up and precisely what information is actually stored off-site. Significantly, the requirement for data backup is the only enforced rule, whilst the others are merely suggestions.

Gould believes that in a majority of cases it is a lack of awareness that causes the non-compliance with data backup guidelines, rather than a conscious decision to ignore them.

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