Data backup is the most crucial step in protecting your company’s information and integrity. Imagine your computer or device crashes or is stolen, or your data gets corrupted and you don’t have a backup. Everything is completely gone. Sure, there are potential recovery options, but they’re never 100% guaranteed and can cost a considerable amount.
You need to make sure that your files will always be available and accessible, no matter the situation. Otherwise, you risk losing work, productivity, customers, and revenue.
There are several factors and methods of data backup. A good backup strategy has three parts: the actual backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity/quick recovery.
So, how do you create a backup strategy? Start with these 4 steps.
- Assess your needs
- Choose your backup method(s)
- Create your plan for asset recovery
- Backup and test regularly
Assess Your Backup Needs
The first step in creating a backup strategy is answering the following questions:
- What do you need to protect?
- How often will you need to back up your data?
- How and where do you want to back up?
- How long do you need your data backed up for?
- Has your company ever been hacked before?
- Is your location at risk for weather-related damage, like flooding or wildfires?
- What is your budget?
These are all important questions to be asking yourself when creating a backup plan. The basic rule for business data protection is that if losing a set of data will interfere with doing business, back it up.
Choose Your Backup Method(s)
The strategy of backing up information should include the 3-2-1 Backup Rule. This means that you should keep at least 3 copies of your data, store 2 backup copies on different storage media, with 1 of them being located off-site. That means you should always have a backup of your backup. The first data backup is likely stored on your internal hard drive. The second could be stored on an external hard drive. The third could be stored in the cloud. This is how I backup all of my data.
Most people who don’t back up their information generally keep it on their local laptop or desktop drive. The benefits to local storage include quick and easy access and complete control over your data. The very obvious downside to this, however, is that if your computer crashes, breaks or is stolen, you have no method of recovering your information.
Mac users’ favorite method of local backup would be Time Machine. Time Machine saves one “snapshot” of your startup disk approximately every hour and keeps it for 24 hours.
Hardware is commonly used for backing up data. Whether that be on an external hard drive, network-attached storage, or USB drive, they can be dedicated solely to backups. The downside of external hardware is that if it crashes, gets stolen, or is destroyed, your data will be lost. Examples of hardware storage include:
- External Hard Drive
- NAS (Network-Attached Storage)
- USB Drives
Online storage and backup services are the new waves of data backup. The cloud is a convenient, affordable, and easy-to-maintain option. You can quickly and easily access, back up, and recover storage and data. Some cloud providers even offer backup automation, making the entire process a lot easier. There are, of course, downsides to the cloud. These include:
- Security and hacking concerns
- Upload/download speed contingent on internet speed
No matter what, you should have an offsite backup. If you were to store your laptop (local) and external hard drive (on-site) at the same location and that location experiences a robbery or disaster, all of your information is gone forever.
- Can work on files while offline, from your desktop or mobile device
- Offers mobile device backup with the app
- Prices start at the free level
- Automatically backs up all files, including attached external hard drives
- Unlimited files, unlimited file size, unlimited speed
- File restore can be downloaded for free or sent via USB flash or hard drive for a price
- Prices start $5/month
- Award-winning support 7 days a week
- Recover clean files from the cloud if your originals become infected with ransomware
- Advanced encryption both at rest and in-flight
- Prices start at $6/month
- “We are confident that we have built client-side encryption software that nobody can hack. To prove this, we challenged hackers from all parts of the world. Participants from top universities, including Berkeley, Boston, MIT, and 613 other organizations put our encryption system to the test. None of them succeeded!”
- Keeps private files confidential with the highest level of encryption
- Accessibility on any device
- Prices start at $5/month
All of these free options are decent options if you don’t have much data to store or back up.
- Google Drive – a great option for those with Android phones
- iCloud – a great option for Apple users
- OneDrive – a great option for students, as they get 1TB of free storage
- Amazon Drive – a great option if you have a Prime membership, as it includes unlimited photo storage and 5GB of video storage
There are other kinds of off-site backups, not including storage within the Cloud. These could include:
- Tape Storage: This process includes the data being copied from its primary storage onto a tape cartridge. The tapes are then transported off-site to a safe location. This is a good option if you have a huge amount of data to be backed up. It’s also not susceptible to hacking or digital security issues.
Don’t forget to factor in disaster recovery. If your building burns down or floods and your data is only locally hosted, your data is gone. This is another reinforcement to the 3-2-1 Rule.
Create Your Plan for Asset Recovery
Your asset recovery plan should include:
- How to perform the recovery
- The data to be recovered
- The location of the data
- Any post-recovery steps
If your recovery is crucial and timely, ask yourself what the minimum amount of time you need is, as well as how much downtime is acceptable.
Backup and Test Regularly
Backing up and testing each backup should be an ongoing task. Each test should verify:
- That the backups are being made successfully
- That the recovery process is smooth
- There are no glitches or issues with the backup
One way to make testing easier is to set testing dates. Pick a day once a week or once a month to back up, depending on your needs.
Data loss and downtime is detrimental and can bring a company to its knees. This is why data backup should be your number one priority. By creating a backup system that regularly backs up your data, you are protecting yourself and your business. You can never have too many backups.
Let us know what you think:
- What are your methods of data backup?
- Have you ever suffered data loss?
- What do you think the future holds for backups and storage in the cloud?