Why every business should have a data backup and recovery plan
If you run a business, do you have a data backup and recovery plan in place? If you do, when was the last time you reviewed your current data backup system to check it was still the right one for your company? If you don’t, what’s holding you back?
What is data backup?
When we talk about data backup, we essentially mean making a copy of all your computer files so that you could access the copies even if the original files were lost. Anyone that owns a computer, from a lone home user to a multi-national business, should have back-up systems in place if they don’t want to risk losing everything on their system.
A surprising number of businesses don’t back up their data regularly or even at all. Whether it’s a question of cost, knowledge or choosing the right system, it’s often a task on a to-do list that gets pushed to the back of the queue in favour of more pressing issues. Sometimes businesses only consider data recovery when disaster strikes, by which time it is usually too late.
If you lost the data at the heart of your business, how easy would it be to recover?
If you have a database of customer details or daily users who create new documents about finances, resources and so on, how much would it cost you to replace that information if it was lost?
Unfortunately, disasters do happen. Humans make mistakes, databases can become corrupted, hardware can fail, or a system can fall foul of a virus or hacker; natural disasters such as fire or flooding can even sweep through a business and destroy essential data. Having a data backup system and recovery plan is the only way to ensure that your business can recover from any disaster.
But how do you choose the right backup solution?
We’ve put together some questions you might want to consider below:
- How important is your data?
A customer database that you use and grow on a daily basis is regarded as critical data, so you might want to have several backup sets that extend back over a few backup periods to ensure that nothing gets lost.
If your employees have their own folders and personal user files that they will need ASAP but aren’t critical to the running of the business, you might want to back-up regularly and ensure the files can be easily recovered without having lots of copies.
- How often does the data change?
If files on your system change on a daily basis, then you should carry out a daily data backup. If most of the files on your system are for reference only and very few files change, you could consider a full weekly backup and then a daily backup of the few files that have changed.
- How quickly do you need to be able to recover data?
If you have critical data that your business can’t operate without, then you would need a data backup system with a quick recovery time. If you could continue operating for a short while without accessing your computer systems – for example, in a school or certain offices – then you might choose a system that’s cheaper – the trade-off being a slightly slower recovery time.
- How much data do you need to store?
Different data backup systems have different storage capacity, so it’s important to consider how much data you hold and will need to back up on a routine basis.
- How reliable do you need the system to be?
Reliability is an important factor when it comes to choosing the right data backup system. If a regular backup failed for some reason, how would this impact on your business? If you handle critical data, a reliable system is essential. If you’re storing data in the cloud, is your internet connection reliable enough to let you access your data at any time?
- Can the system grow with your business?
If your business is likely to grow over the next few years, it’s important to choose a system that has plenty of extensibility so that new functionality could be added or structural changes made without it causing problems to the day-to-day running of your business.
- How big is your budget?
Understandably, budget is often a deciding factor for data backup and recovery. The aim is to find the system that best meets your needs without the costs being prohibitive. We would always recommend that you speak to an experienced IT solutions provider, such as One Source Communications, in order to get the best idea of what your budget could achieve.
- What type of backup system do you need?
There is a wide range of backup methods and systems to choose from. Tape drives are the most common backup devices because they are generally the most affordable solution. However, tape drives are fairly slow and can be unreliable.
Other options include:
- Digital audio tape (DAT) drives, which offer greater speed, capacity and reliability than traditional magnetic tape drives
- Auto-loader tape systems, which use a magazine of tapes for extended back-up volumes – these are ideal for a business that handles a lot of data, although these systems can be expensive
- Magnetic optical drives combine magnetic tape technology with optical lasers – this solution is more reliable than DAT drives
- Tape jukeboxes use magnetic optical disks and work in a similar way to auto-loader tape systems – this is a great automated solution for businesses but can be expensive
- Removable disks are growing in popularity, fast and easy to use – they can be more expensive than standard tape or DAT drives
- Disk drives are much faster than tape drives, making them ideal for businesses that need quick data recovery – they can be expensive and the system may not grow with your organisation
How often should you back up?
As well as having to consider which type of backup solution fits your business’s needs, you will need to decide on the type and frequency of your data backups. A normal or full backup copies every single file on the system. Differential backups just copy those files that have been changed since the last full backup, whereas incremental backups just back up the files that have changed since a normal or differential backup. As the name would suggest, daily backups happen every day.
It’s very common for businesses to do a weekly full back-up, then a daily incremental or differential backup, coupled with an extended monthly or quarterly backup that creates several sets of the more extensive data.
If possible, aim for your daily back-up to take place when your business is quieter – for example, late in the afternoon or overnight – as it will be a much quicker process than trying to backup files while everyone is actively using the system.
Cloud data backup solutions
Many businesses are turning their attention to cloud data backup solutions. This is because, when your data is stored in the cloud, it can be recovered quickly from any location, and shared across multiple sites. Traditional on-site backup is vulnerable to problems such as power outages, air conditioning failure, power surges, floods, fire, human error, and data corruption. Cloud data storage works well for businesses of any size or setup and, because it’s not on-site, it is immune to many of these vulnerabilities.
Here at One Source Communications, we take data storage very seriously. Our ISO regulated UK datacentres use banking level SSL encryption, and enterprise level anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-malware protection. Each datacentre is located within its own secure compound with three-metre fencing, electric entry and anti-tailgate technology; there are also security personnel on site 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Entry is via a six-layer system, including the use of biometric scanning.
Ultimately, most businesses want solutions that are easy to implement, automated and allow for data to be recovered quickly and easily, even by non-techy staff. Having a backup provider can take away the headache of data storage and recovery, and give you access to new solutions as they become available. It can also be incredibly helpful to have professional advice about creating your back-up system from the outset to ensure that it is more than capable of meeting your business needs and budget.
The most important thing is that you have the proper support level in place so that, in the event of an emergency, your business can be back up and running with minimal disruption.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert team about data backup and recovery solutions for your business, simply call us on 08442 570 111.