Today, businesses are totally data-driven with operations, services and new opportunities all highly dependent on the masses of new information created daily. With over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated each day on the internet, the value of user information has never been greater and the safeguarding thereof has never been as important. The loss or corruption of databases, records, and other critical files can lead to serious interruptions in business continuity, especially if the day-to-day services provided are reliant on that data.
Unplanned events ranging from accidental errors and malicious cyber attacks to environmental disasters and hardware malfunctions, can all paralyse even the largest of companies. To mitigate the threat of loss of critical data, backups provide the means to quickly recover from any disruptions. Backups store historical copies of the most fundamental data so that when and if anything is lost, no serious damage is done. Without backups acting as an operational safety-net, any attempts at recovery are far more perilous.
What is a Data Backup?
When recovering from a substantial data loss, backups, whether stored locally (on the device that originally stored the files), on separate devices, off-site, or the cloud, can be the difference between mere hours of restoration and weeks, months or years of work required to recover and recreate those essential company documents.
When creating backups a “more-is-more” approach should always be followed as the dependence on a single backup can be as dangerous as having no backup at all. Specifically, if a backup is stored on the same device or in the same physical location as the original files, the backup is just as vulnerable to cyber attacks, theft, and weather-related issues. Even worse is the complacency that comes with someone believing they have “backed up” their files if they’ve followed such a procedure.
What should you backup?
To get the most out of your backups, only copies of crucial files which cannot be easily reproduced should be made. This may include staff and customer records, financial and transactional data, intellectual property (proprietary software, for example), documents and spreadsheets. It is ineffective to create backups of files which can be easily re-installed such as software and operating systems – these files (if on physical disks) should rather be kept in a safe, off-site location.
What are the best Backup Methods & Storage types?
Physical backups can be stored on hard drives, separate servers or dedicated tape cartridges. Creating a physical backup is traditional and common practice due to the low cost and simplicity of installing and creating the backups. Though the hardware used to store the backups are paid for once-off, the management of physical backups and recoveries can be time-consuming and complicated.
While backup tapes are relatively robust, these backups are non-permanent (a lifespan of 30 years) and the technology involved is somewhat outdated. External hard drives, on the other hand, are faster and support modern techniques like file compression and duplicate removal.
Unfortunately, hardware backup solutions are not fool-proof and are susceptible to malfunctions and physical damage, the result of which is the loss of the entire backup. Additionally, hardware backups can occupy large amounts of physical space which may not always be available – this may be an issue for businesses without dedicated infrastructure.
Software packages can be used to manage backups on individual devices. By either creating entire copies of a computer’s file system at a given point or making regular copies of critical data, software backups are designed to ensure that files are not destroyed by accident. Backup software can be used to automatically (at scheduled intervals) compress, organise, archive, declutter, and recover any damaged files in a local file system. These software solutions can be relatively inexpensive, but do not protect against physical damage or theft. More expensive software packages can be configured to store backups on a separate server in a hybrid approach.
Hybrid Cloud Backups
Hybrid cloud backups are a maximalist approach to data security; data is backed-up to an on-site device (a hardware or software solution) and an off-site location (typically a form of cloud storage). The redundancy of this approach ensures that if one backup is compromised, there exists a second to recover from. Firstly, backups are made locally (on-site) and then secondly, during off-peak work hours, that backup is transferred off-site, either to a data centre or a cloud storage platform. This solution can become expensive as the costs involved in maintaining these backups are substantial.
Cloud backups remove the need for large, dedicated, costly servers as all copies of data are stored in the cloud. This solution may not be feasible for some businesses depending on: the size of the backups, the internet speed available, and the sensitivity of the data. However, when using a reputable service, backups are guaranteed to be: safe in perpetuity, easily accessible by many users around the world, secured against cyber attacks, and protected from disasters.
When backups are made frequently the quantity of data that could be potentially lost forever greatly decreases; as backups become more and more irregular, the risk of permanent data loss rises.
Although backups should be made regularly, they can be time-consuming to create and therefore should only be made when necessary. Backups should be made at a rate similar to the frequency of the changes made to the files.
For example, data which is altered every six months needs not be backed up daily, whereas data which changes every day should be backed-up each evening. Backup software packages can create rules to ensure that data is automatically backed up when it is changed, or otherwise at logical intervals.
Unfortunately, severe data loss brought on by unforeseen events is something we have seen far too often in our many years of service.
For companies which are heavily dependent on data, your protection against any type of data loss is only guaranteed through a well-devised disaster recovery plan.
9spheres Technologies can implement a steadfast data backup strategy that will best suit your business’s needs. This plan will cover the implementation of reliable backup systems, the monitoring and 24/7 support required by complex backups, and guaranteed fast recovery times when responding to critical data loss.
Contact us for an audit of your current data backup and protection plan.