Data security, as a business owner, is quickly becoming one of the biggest looming threat to our digital environment. If a data backup fails, the irretrievable loss of key information can drive a business to the edge of failure. According to our expert partners at Acronis, “Backup is the process of creating a copy of the data on your system that you use for recovery in case your original data is lost or corrupted. You can also use backup to recover copies of older files if you have deleted them from your system.” Regardless of data, companies often find it damages the reputation of the company, affecting vendors, sponsors, and most importantly, clients.
While creating a “backup” every once in a while is highly recommended by IT experts everywhere, but if not prepared properly, a backup can fail to retrieve data entirely. After a catastrophic event with your data, the last thing a business owner wants to find is that his backups are corrupted too, and are effectively worthless. To ensure a backup can actually backup, it is critical to run regular tests to preserve data integrity. Backups are extremely useful, beneficial and ensure business continuity in the face of a disaster. In general, experts recommend “…a 3-2-1 strategy is ideal where you have at least three copies of your data — two on different platforms and one at an offsite location (cloud). With a centralized remote monitoring and management tool, you can get complete visibility into your backup tasks and remotely monitor and validate them.” This article will go over some of the best ways to ensure a successful restore of your backups, no matter the circumstances.
An Effective Backup: Needed Components
A company should look for three essential parts to a backup strategy. If a company can adopt these new strategies, the backup process can continue with consistency. It can involve steps, but it is possible for a company to create a fool-proof system that is able to eliminate backup failures.
- Create a backup schedule. In a company with no dedicated IT, backups can happen irregularly, depending on who remembers to check to see if data has been backed up this year. How often a backup happens should depend on how long your business could stay up and running without the data. If, for example, your business is a dentist’s office, you may want to back up customer files on a daily or on alternate days to ensure that week’s worth of appointments won’t be lost. Consider if you set a backup schedule of once a month, and the data loss happens a day before the scheduled backup, all of the data could be lost for an entire month! A schedule should work with your business needs and requirements.
- Monitor your backups. After making the essential backup strategy, next your company needs to find a way to regularly monitor these backups. Monitoring a backup requires using several different sensors to review the files and make sure they are still intact and has not failed or been corrupted. Actually monitoring backups means your company could identify a data failure before you lose the data and can still reverse any potential damage. It also helps techs troubleshoot and find the root source of a failure and implement a fix quickly.
- Test your backups. The worst feeling after doing regularly scheduled backups is finding out when you really need it, it fails. A waste of time, effort, and money. Periodically, it is important to do a full restore on your systems and data (as per your company requires, but we recommend scheduling full restores weekly or monthly). By thoroughly testing your recoverability, you can rest assured that your backups will ensure business continuity no matter what happens!
Why Test: Benefits of Backup Testing
Regularly testing data backups are an essential part of a BCDR, or business continuity and disaster recovery. Technology is not foolproof, so having backup plans for both physical and digital company assets are essential to a business, especially one with a technology-heavy workforce. But we also put together a couple of other points as to why your business should stay up to date on their backup strategy:
- Disaster recovery readiness: Though we just mentioned it, it goes to show how important being ready in the face of a disaster is. Your company cannot predict a fire or an electrical outage, nevertheless server or data failure. So when those things inevitably do happen, your company can have the confidence to be fully prepared to deal with an unexpected disaster when it occurs. And since your company has restored your data countless times, there is no panic among the team, and your business operations can resume much faster than if you had to rebuild data.
- Compliance adherence: Most regulatory bodies dealing in compliance require regular backup testing (and most recently cybersecurity insurance policies have been doing the same). Just having a plan though is not good enough, you have to have a way to ensure that your testing will actually prevent data loss. How often and when you test may change depending on what regulations your company abides by – make sure to review closely when creating backup policies.
- Deduplication avoidance: Imagine losing data and having to pick between 1 and 5 to fully restore data, and the others will have you months behind in work… It can happen, especially when the backup testing process is not being monitored and duplicate backups can accumulate. An occasional deduplication process as part of your backup testing process will free up a lot of resources and allows you to spend less time processing.
- Optimized data: During testing, your company has an opportunity to organize your critical data and manage it effectively. Every size business can use better organized data, and testing backups will give your company a change to view where everything is stored. Ultimately, you can streamline the backup process and ensure proper restoration.
- Understanding your infrastructure: Most companies have not seen a layout of how their data is stored, and backup testing will help companies get a better understanding of their data storage infrastructure. For example, seeing how each and every component goes into a larger high-level view of your data storage infrastructure within the backup process is a priceless piece of leadership knowledge for your team.
- Commitment to stakeholders: Having a BCDR and a backup test schedule means giving your stakeholders (and most importantly clients) security in your (and their) data. Testing your backups regularly is a better way to ensure your customers and other stakeholders that you are doing everything in your power to bring business continuity.
Take Back Security in Your Data
Disaster drills are a part of various processes in our daily lives. We often go through fire safety drills in buildings to ensure we’re prepared in case of an unexpected disaster. Why should data protection be any different? There is nothing worse than putting a plan into action without ever testing it. Regular backup testing can help you reduce recovery failures to a great extent and help you adhere to your business continuity plan.
If you’re unsure how to do this, don’t worry. An IT service provider like us can handle those matters for you. Reach out today to assess your backup recoverability and ensure consistent data restoration during your time of need.