Each and every business now stores significant amount of operational and client data. And most of it (if not all of it) is digital. And most of it is sensitive and clients expect you to take all reasonable steps to protect their data.
As a result, loss of access to or loss of the data itself has a serious consequences for both the business’ operations, its reputation and its clients.
Now a days businesses are mostly worried about cyber attacks and ransomware thanks to increasing awareness and the sheer number of headlines we see, but as we all painfully aware in Canterbury there is more than one way to lose your data or lose your access to it – natural disasters, hardware failure and physical damage, corrupted files, human errors, etc.
The good news is that a good backup system can go a long way to shelter your business from these scenarios and can also help you preserve and protect not only your data, but also your business continuity, and can also deliver enhanced security and provide faster and more efficient file storage.
There is a wide range of options out there that could be tailored for your business needs.
It may be counter intuitive but when it comes to backups and IT, it is not always the case of doing more, but doing what needs to be done well and consistently.
What you need to consider when evaluating a backup solution?
Access to experience and expertise
Make sure you have reliable team on board that have exposure to a wide range of solutions and have current experience managing them.
Having well thought out system, aligned with your business needs is just the first step of the process. Designing the system, implementing the solutions, day to day monitoring and maintaining its performance, and disaster recovery should it come to that, all require a different set of skills and knowledge.
What are your recovery objectives?
What data is mission critical for the business survival? Which applications, which files, which devices/endpoints? How long can you do without email? How long can you cope without access to your file server? What applications you need to recover first?
Depending on how fast you want your systems restored in full in an event of breach or incident, you will need to implement different solutions and the cost of your backup system will vary as well.
How much data you can afford to lose? If your backup runs every 2 hours, then this is the maximum risk you carry at any given moment – to lose the last two hours of work.
Does your folder structure suit your business?
Create file organisation standard for your business and educate your staff about it staff – this will help you manage the data volumes in the long run, plus will help with productivity and reduce errors.
Backup your servers not just your data
Which machines/hardware are the most important ones for the business – you will need to backup the applications and their configurations as well in order to restore servers and crucial workstations to get the business up and running ASAP.
Do you have a good system to determine what access each user account needs to have? In case of someone clicking on a phishing link, all data this user has access to will be compromised. Never use login with admin privileges for browsing and email. This will reduce the human error risk for your data.
How do you manage staff’s own devices and personal computers? Do you think you have important files on such devices and how would you ensure they are backed up?
Establish a process for your staff to follow when they use their own devices and provide guidelines. How to set up the business applications? How to protect them and keep them separate from personal use? How to store and backup the work they do on these devices?
Basic back up
General rule of a thumb – keep three copies of the data with one copy offsite.
Live data on your server is the first copy.
Onsite backup – also on hard drive or NAS device (Network Attached Storage device), is your second copy. It will store all the image files (base file) and will be configured to automatically do continuous incremental backups according to a specified schedule (which will depend on your recovery point objectives).
These incremental backups do cover only the changes made since last backup and will link to the original base file. If the system is performing well, this will provide you with a complete backup copy you can recover if needed. If the path to the base file is broken for some reason, you will not be able to recover your files. This is why the whole process needs to be monitored and alerts should be set to notify you if there are any issues. This is important as your backups will continue to run as normal even if the path being broken and your ability to recover the data is compromised.
The third backup copy will be the one you send and store offsite. Depending on your business needs you need to develop a schedule that will ensure that you are not losing any crucial data. You will need to choose the service you will use for offsite backup based on your recovery objectives.
The further from your server location, the better. You may even use an overseas based datacentre to keep you offsite backup on. These services can provide an environment that allows you to restore your servers in the cloud.
Establish separate processes for imaging, files, SQL, archive
Do you have proper processes for imaging, files, databases, and archives – one solution may not fit them all/perform well different application types like exchange of SQL.
Creating archived storage for all the information you still need, but do not work on actively will go a long way towards managing storage capacity. Archive as much data as possible. You can protect these files from modification while allowing your team to download whatever they might need.
This will allow you to reduce significantly the size of your backup and you can establish separate process for this backup to help manage the bandwidth you need.
You can create a separate schedule for the archived file storage (for files that are not being modified, you do not need to backup as often or maintain continuous backup process) and use consumer hard drives (less expensive) and still have the files handy, safe and easy to recover.
Where cloud storage fits?
Is the cloud enough or you still should have a backup plan outside of the cloud service?
Cloud is not a backup! Cloud storage is a collaboration tool and can be used as a replacement of onsite file server. As such, we recommend that it should also be backed up as part of your backup system.
Office 365, Dropbox, Box and other similar solutions have backup systems of their own and in general they will aim not to loose your data. But users are not in position to review their processes and if you lose files, it might be long wait before they get restored. Make sure you read their T&Cs, before you make your decision on how much exactly you are going to rely on them.
Automate as much of your process as you can. Test and check on a regular basis that it all works well and you have reliable backups at any point. Set up alerts to get notified about problems and irregularities and address issues as soon as they appear and before they become a problem.
Develop disaster recovery plan
Discuss and create disaster recovery plan with your service provider that is fit for purpose and aligned with your business’ workflows and needs. Run test recoveries on a regular basis.
Ensure you will have the right people in your corner if you ever need to do disaster recovery of your network for real. The knowledge and experience you have on your team at this point will be crucial for the successful restore.
Last but not least, keep a good documentation of all your processes and actions. This will help you assess and evaluate your systems easily.
Should you have any specific questions or you need someone to independently assess your backup solution and IT network, please give us a call – we will be happy to assist.
0800 248 277