In this technology driven age, data is quite possibly one of the biggest assets that your company has, but more than that, has to protect.
Data loss is so much more than the physical loss; it can be expensive and time consuming to replace, even with full backup systems. As well, repairing any data loss cannot happen in an instant, and of course, if you are a large company, you will have more data, which leads to lengthier backup, and recovery times, but without those backups, your company will not be able to function; it can be quite a vicious circle or catch 22 situations.
Listed below are some simple steps that you should think about when implementing a backup and recovery strategy for your company.
Backup VS Recovery:
Protecting your data is not just about keeping it secure though, what would happen in the event of a disaster? Are your systems agile enough to recover from data loss?
For many companies, the key to successful data backup, storage and recovery lies within making that backup as easy and quickly as possible. However, we would argue that backup does not need to be easy, but the recovery process that should be easy and quick; after all, if your system goes down, you need to get it up and running as quickly as possible. With an automated backup strategy, backup can take place at the most convenient time, perhaps when the systems are not being used or overnight. With this in mind, it does not really matter how long the process takes to physically backup the system.
The key thing is to remember that when you need to recover your system, it takes minimum effort and time, after all, there is a good chance that stress levels are already high, you do not need to add to that.
Cloud Vs Local Vs Off-site:
We should also consider just where the backup is held. Backing up to a local server or tapes held on site is quite common, and on the face of it, a reasonable step. However, if there was a disaster in the form of fire or flood, all local backup data was also destroyed. It is for this reason that you should consider offsite backup options alongside local backup. It is very unlikely that you will lose both sets of data in a single event. One such offsite option is cloud storage; everything is backed up to a cloud server, meaning that data is safe but more importantly, accessible from anywhere at any time. Perhaps the only real drawback to this option is data transfer rates; it can often be slower than conventional methods, meaning that backing up and recovery could take longer, but that disadvantage is far outweighed by the secure nature of cloud storage.
Whilst we are looking at where the data is held, another key area that needs thought is the centralization and automation of the backup process. This point seems particularly relevant to SME’s; in our experience, it seems all too often that it is the smaller companies that do not really have a strategy for backup or recovery. They have not given it either any thought, or they just do the occasional backup when they remember, this could be once a fortnight or perhaps twice a year.
There is no doubt that ICT, in particular, data, is becoming a greater part of modern business, so whilst these smaller enterprises are gradually coming round to this way of thinking, they still lag behind in the overall implementation of this kind of strategy.
Automation is easily implemented and should be done at the earliest opportunity, but include everything in the backup; do not just backup the data (which is undoubtedly important), but any applications that use the data should also be backed up at the same time, this is even more important if the application is not the latest release.
In such a fast paced industry, you can often find that data created with an old application may not run with a newer version; the data could need importing, configuring or even changing at base level which of course all takes time (if at all possible), leading to longer recovery times and in some cases, a less than successful recovery.
As part of the backup strategy, you should implement a lifecycle calendar, which also includes regular reviews of any backup logs to ensure that the data is backed up to the point where it should be. This will give you the opportunity to identify (and therefore resolve) any failures within the system right from the automated process or script through to loss of data. After all, there would be little point in backing up data only to find that a portion of it is missing when you need it most – when you have lost any other reference to it!
We have no doubt that some companies may not see the need for any such systems, believing that they have too little data to be of any value to them, but even on the smallest scale, perhaps as a sole trader, imagine losing your client or supplier database? Yes, it is possible that you could replace the information with some work, but the time the process takes and the matter of confidentiality should be considered. You could not exactly advertise the fact that all data had been lost, even if it was not lost publicly.
Perhaps the biggest advantage you have right now (before the loss of any data) is forward planning; thinking ahead as to what could happen or what would happen with the loss of all your data and information.
Think about the data you have, how much of that data could be said to be ‘sensitive’ and what is critical, what would happen to the business if you lost and could not recover that data.
Even putting financial penalties aside, if nothing else, on the lower end of the scale, data loss is a pain, but if you are a multi-national, then data loss will have huge implications throughout the business, financial damage could be the least of your worries.
No matter how time-consuming backup can be, it should be created successful backups with the use of offsite storage, automated scripts and secure technology are the key to any successful data recovery strategy. Concentrate more on the recovery than the backup; speed of backup is not anywhere near as important as the ability to recover quickly from any loss. Remember that time spent backing up is time invested into the business, and that will never be a bad way to invest.
Do not wait until it is too late, invest your time and money now, a well-implemented strategy will give you excellent Return on Investment in the end.