World Backup Day: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself About Data Backups
As cyberattacks increase yearly, the reality is that today’s data is constantly at risk and losing that data is always a frustrating and costly ordeal. Just how dire is this situation? The World Backup Day website paints a grim picture:
Unfortunately, most of us are not backing up with the required frequency to mitigate severe data loss. In fact, up to 40-60% of small businesses won’t reopen after a critical data loss incident.
There’s no better time than now to take steps to protect yourself. As you read through the following questions, think about your situation. If you don’t have confident answers to these questions, it may be time to take action – before the next critical incident occurs.
How regularly is my data backed up?
How often you backup depends on several factors, such as the importance of the data on your systems, how quickly you need to restore it, and your working schedule.
Perhaps the most critical aspect is how often your data changes. Nowadays, nearly everyone creates new information daily, whether for social media, news outlets, databases, or company websites – underscoring the need for more frequent backups.
For example, suppose you are self-employed or part of a smaller organization. In that case, you could do with performing a full backup each day and partial backups every couple of hours. If you are in an enterprise and deal with large volumes of information, this frequency is likely shorter. At the end of the day, it’s about finding a schedule that works best for you and adhering to it regularly.
Are my backup locations diverse enough?
There’s an age-old warning against placing all your eggs in one basket, which goes doubly for backups. When considering backup locations, your options typically fall into three separate categories:
- Local: A drive that you can easily retrieve at a physical location. It can be easily accessed and controlled but is vulnerable to loss or damage.
- Cloud/Offsite: An online backup service or drive stored in a separate and secure location. It is easily accessible from anywhere and is more resilient to breaches. However, these can be somewhat complex to secure and are vulnerable to error if you aren’t monitoring the health of your backups.
- Offline: An online backup service or drive disconnected from a network or system and placed in a different location. This type of backup is still vulnerable to loss or theft, hardware damage from the environment (e.g., floods), and technological failure.
Today, many turn to the cloud to back up their data because of better costs, a lower risk of backup damage, and an automated backup schedule. However, to ensure that your data is most readily available, it’s a good idea to have a mix of all three types.
Do my backups work, and can they be quickly restored?
There’s nothing worse than needing to recover only to find out your latest backup doesn’t function properly. You should never assume your backups are good. There are many factors that go into backing up data, like cloud security, the quality of the external drive, and overall data management practices.
In your testing, you should have an idea of:
- Data backup and restoration time: how long does it take you to backup AND restore a given amount of data, like all your financial records, client data, or documents?
- Application backup and restoration time: how long does it take you to backup and restore a critical business application, like your ERP or sales system?
- Offsite restore time: If your data is in the cloud or remote location, how quickly can you retrieve that information? What happens if that location is unavailable due to technological or physical disruption (e.g., floods, electrical malfunction)?
You should be testing restores according to a schedule, like with backups. How frequently you do this depends on your needs and how often your data changes, but aim for at least a quarterly review.
What is my data recovery plan?
While they are critical, it’s important to remember that data backups are simply the process of copying and replicating data. They’re not a substitute for a solid data recovery plan. They will be of little use if you get cut off from critical applications such as email or billing systems.
When formulating a plan, you should have the following steps.
- Identify crucial apps, data, and systems that would negatively impact you if you lost access.
- Examine different scenarios, focusing on main priorities and recovery goals.
- Create a communication plan, so everyone is on the same page.
- Write down your plan, with instructions on containment, repair, and ongoing monitoring for issues.
- Test and evaluate. Don’t be afraid to modify!
IT Weapons – Your Partner in Data Protection
If this sounds complicated, you don’t have to worry.
At IT Weapons, we offer a variety of data protection and backup solutions that can help protect your data no matter where it’s stored. Our experts can help you create a disaster recovery and continuity strategy that fits your organization’s needs. Watch our latest Tech Tuesday on Data Backups to learn more.
With various options and a built-in disaster recovery solution, we can help ensure that your data is always secure.