Losing your data due to a computer crash, virus, or other disasters can be devastating. Without a backup in place, data loss puts many small companies out of business because they just can’t recover. But data backup is about more than just ensuring you have another copy of important files, it can be a safeguard against ransomware attacks, and help you bounce back from a data loss incident with barely a dent made to your bottom line.

When a business suffers data loss, it means downtime. And every hour of downtime is costing you money and missed opportunities. This is one reason companies use managed I.T. services that include data backup and recovery.

What is a data backup?

Plainly put, a data backup is a copy or archive of the important information stored on your devices such as a computer, phone, or tablet, and it’s used to restore that original information in the event of a data loss.

Data losses can occur in many forms, from hard drive failures to ransomware attacks and even human error or physical theft. No matter the misfortune, a data backup could be the respite you’re looking for to restore the data stored on your devices. It’s typically stored in a secure, separate location from an original device, such as a cloud.

This way,  whenever you have that crushing feeling that all your hard work and treasured memories are gone, you can rest assured that a data backup has your back.

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What data should be backed up and how frequently?

A backup process is applied to critical databases or related line-of-business applications. The process is governed by predefined backup policies that specify how frequently the data is backed up and how many duplicate copies — known as replicas — are required, as well as by service-level agreements (SLAs) that stipulate how quickly data must be restored.

Best practices suggest a full data backup should be scheduled to occur at least once a week, often during weekends or off-business hours. To supplement weekly full backups, enterprises typically schedule a series of differential or incremental data backup jobs that back up only the data that has changed since the last full backup took place.

Data Backup – Why is it important?

Companies and people are very dependent on data. Whereas a person cannot survive without air, water, and food, businesses cannot survive without data. Forty percent of companies that do not have proper backup or disaster recovery plans in place do not survive a disaster.

Every company must designate a Backup Administrator to handle the entire backup strategy, including backup solutions and tools; the backup scope, schedule, and infrastructure; the network and storage, recovery time objectives (RTOs), recovery point objectives (RPOs), etc.

It is extremely important that your company has a backup strategy and solution in place. Otherwise, you can be a statistic.

Data Backup Options

There are many ways to backup your file. Choosing the right option can help ensure that you are creating the best data backup plan for your needs. Below are six of the most common techniques or technologies:

Removable Media

A simple option is to backup files on removable media such as CDs, DVDs, newer Blu-Ray disks, or USB flash drives. This can be practical for smaller environments, but for larger data volumes, you’ll need to back up to multiple disks, which can complicate recovery. Also, you need to make sure you store your backups in a separate location, otherwise they may also be lost in a disaster. Tape backups also fall into this category.

Redundancy

You can set up an additional hard drive that is a replica of a sensitive system’s drive at a specific point in time, or an entire redundant system. For example, another email server that is on standby, backing up your main email server. Redundancy is a powerful technique but is complex to manage. It requires frequent replication between cloned systems, and it’s only useful against the failure of a specific system unless the redundant systems are in a remote site.

External Hard Drive

You can deploy a high-volume external hard drive in your network, and use archive software to save changes to local files to that hard drive. Archive software allows you to restore files from the external hardware with an RPO of only a few minutes. However, as your data volumes grow, one external drive will not be enough, or the RPO will substantially grow. Using an external drive necessitates having it deployed on the local network, which is risky.

Hardware Appliances

Many vendors provide complete backup appliances, typically deployed as a 19” rack-mounted device. Backup appliances come with large storage capacity and pre-integrated backup software. You install backup agents on the systems you need to back up, define your backup schedule and policy, and the data starts streaming to the backup device. As with other options, try to place the backup device isolated from the local network and if possible, in a remote site.

Backup Software

Software-based backup solutions are more complex to deploy and configure than hardware appliances, but offer greater flexibility. They allow you to define which systems and data you’d like to back up, allocate backups to the storage device of your choice, and automatically manage the backup process.

Cloud Backup Services

Many vendors and cloud providers offer Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions, where you can push local data to a public or private cloud and in case of disaster, recover data back from the cloud. BaaS solutions are easy to use and have the strong advantage that data is saved in a remote location. However, if using a public cloud, you need to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards, and consider that over time, data storage costs in the cloud will be much higher than the cost of deploying similar storage on-premises.

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How to choose the right backup option

When deciding which type of backup to use, you need to weigh several key considerations.

Enterprises commonly mix various data backup approaches, as dictated by the primacy of the data. A backup strategy should be governed by the SLAs that apply to an application, with respect to data access and availability, recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives. Choice of backups is also influenced by the versatility of a backup application, which should guarantee all data is backed up and provides replication and recovery while establishing efficient backup processes.

Summary

Your company’s survival depends on the survival of your company data. To implement a reliable data backup strategy, define your business objectives – the backup scope, RPOs, and RTOs; implement proper solutions; provision the storage or combination of multiple storages; and execute and monitor the backups. Only then can you be sure that your company can continue to safely operate, even when unforeseen events occur.