Protect your business. Back up your data

 In Security

The idea of losing all your data should be enough to keep anyone who has a computer up at night; but for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it can be catastrophic!

It could mean significant downtime, productivity loss or worse – business closure.

Accidents happen, disasters arise, and you won’t be able to blame the consequences on bad luck if you don’t have a comprehensive and secure data backup.

How data loss happens

There are any number of ways that your important data may be lost. The cause might be intentional or unintentional; erroneous or malicious. Here are some of the common reasons or causes.

Intentional action

  • Intentional deletion of a file or program.

Unintentional action

  • Accidental deletion of a file or program.
  • Misplacement of media (CDs, memory sticks, etc.)
  • Misplacement of a portable device (smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)
  • Accidental damage to a device (trips, spills, etc.)
  • Administration errors.
  • Inability to read unknown file format.

Failure

  • Power failure, resulting in data in volatile memory not being saved to permanent memory.
  • Hardware failure, such as a hard drive failure.
  • A software crash or freeze, resulting in data not being saved.
  • Software bugs or poor usability, such as not confirming a file delete command.
  • Business failure, where data is stored with a third-party.
  • Data corruption, such as file system corruption or database corruption.

Disaster

  • Natural disaster (earthquake, flood, cyclone, etc.)
  • Fire.

Crime

  • Data theft (hacking, sabotage, etc.)
  • Physical theft of the computer or device.
  • Malware infection (virus, ransomware, etc.)

Safety first – make a backup!

Every day we generate more and more data; and not all of us are tech savvy enough to apply the best practices in saving and handling it. We’re often too consumed with our day-to-day work to worry about ‘what-ifs’ and ‘should-haves’.

A comprehensive secure and accessible data backup is a lot like an insurance policy – many of us will never need to use it but, on the rare occasions when we do, we’re glad we invested in it.

Create your backup strategies – what are the best practices?

To secure your data, you have to create a solid backup plan. An effective strategy requires an investment of time and money as well as effective implementation. In fact, it is better for your company to have specific backup policies on all your servers and backup devices. This is to ensure that there is a consistent and reliable method for recovering data. But make sure the policies are clear and easy for your staff to understand and follow.

Here are some recommendations for effective data backups:

1. Schedule

Create a schedule to ensure that backups are done in a consistent and timely manner. They should happen regularly and, if possible, several times a day. Include in your goal the capacity to restore data or systems in a reasonable amount of time, to minimise any downtime and disruption.

2. Whole system backups

There are different types of backups, but the most effective to use for a solid backup policy is a full backup. Here, all files and folders are mirrored on a particular host or set of hosts. Restores are more convenient to manage and maintain as the entire list of data is in one backup set. However, this type is time consuming as the entire list of files is backed up again every time it is run. It also consumes more storage space.

We recommend ShadowProtect backup software for your whole system backups. It allows not only file based backup but also complete disaster recovery of a computer, which includes the operating system, programs and other data. It is also smart in the way it backs up to reduce the space used.

3. Storage Medium

Where you store your backups is also important. If you use physical media to store your data backups (such as external hard drives, USB sticks or DVDs), make sure you store them away from extreme heat, cold and dampness; and keep them away from electrical or magnetic devices.

No matter how you store your backups, at least one copy should be kept off-site.

4. Monitoring and testing

It is not enough to ‘set and forget’ your backup system. Proper monitoring is required to know your backup is working. Test backup files regularly to ensure they are good. This can involve an automated system that verifies each backup file to ensure it works properly with a manual recovery of files at regular intervals. Good backup systems send out email alerts so you can see whether they are working and or not.

5. Retention

This is often overlooked in backup systems but you want to make sure that if you need to recover a file that was deleted, your backup system has enough retention in it to allow the recovery. In developing a data retention policy, consider the need for the organisation to archive specific types of data. Good retention policies are based on retaining certain backups for longer periods of time.

Recommendations

Loss of critical business data can happen for any number of reasons, from the mundane (deleting the wrong file) to the remarkable (fire, flood or theft). No matter how it happens, if you don’t have the data backed up, your business will suffer.

So, what do we recommend?

For critical systems, you need to make sure you’re backing up your complete operating system as well as your files. We recommend ShadowProtect backup software for your whole system backups.

Keep at least one copy of your backup off-site. If fire, flood or theft claims your home or office, you need another copy safely stored elsewhere. We recommend either external hard drives that are rotated off-site or remote backup to the cloud.

Test your backup system regularly to ensure that it restores all information correctly. Testing the backup system also demonstrates how much time is required to restore data. A good backup plan needs to facilitate fast recovery of lost data.

How well you are prepared is the key to minimising the fallout from data loss and getting back to business quickly. Don’t wait for an unexpected and unfortunate incident to happen before you implement your backup plan. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

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