What you haven’t been told about backups.

The right backup strategy could protect your business from disaster.

it-backupBackup plays a crucial role in data security. If your files are encrypted, lost or suffer any type of interruption, it’s your backup solution that has the potential to save your business. And, if your business is ever the target of a big and serious cyber-attack, you will be thanking those who ensured the best backup strategies are in place and that they are actually working!

Modern organisations generate more data than ever. Fortunately, the range of backup solutions has increased accordingly, and the per-gigabyte cost of storage continues to fall. However, the vast array of potential backup and storage options can make it difficult to select the most appropriate strategy for your business.

Backups can generally be either image or file based and stored onsite, offsite or in the cloud. Image based backup solutions allow you to select an entire drive, or entire machine, and back up your data by creating an “image” of the disk or drive you have selected. Image based backups are ideal, as they allow for your entire system to be recovered and come back online after an incident, rather than just your individual files and folders.  File based backups work the other way around, only backing up your files and folders but not allowing your entire system to be recovered after an incident.

Cloud backup, which is also known as remote backup or online backup, provides a backup of your data which is stored in the cloud.  The benefit of a cloud based backup is that your business information is securely backed up to the cloud automatically, without the need for human intervention to perform a manual task like change a drive or tape.

Cloud based systems – Did you know?

An important point about cloud based systems, such as Office 365, One Drive and DropBox, that’s often overlooked is the fact that, even though they have become extremely reliable and popular, many businesses fail to consider a second backup option, meaning from the cloud based software provider to another location, i.e. from Microsoft Office 365 to another cloud backup provider such as Skykick. Although most people think that cloud software have backups built into their product offering, what most actually have is built-in fault tolerance, which means that if the cloud software provider has a large system failure your data will be safely available to you from somewhere else. However, if you have an isolated incident and just one or a small group of your files is corrupted, encrypted or lost, you will probably have a hard time attempting recovery.

Not only the backup option chosen is important, but the storage options available for your backups are also crucial in a properly design backup strategy. If you are looking for onsite storage, the most common solutions are Network Attached Storage (NAS) or hard drive. However, the options available for offsite backup are tape, optical disks or cloud (if you have a good internet connection). We won’t explain these options in detail in this article, but you need to keep them in mind when investing in a backup solution and discuss with your managed services provider the best option for your business.

IT review checklist - key IT areas to evaluate

Whatever approach you select, there are several key factors that you need to consider to ensure your backup strategy is effective:

Backup frequency

Firstly, it’s important to establish a backup schedule. How frequently you back up your data will depend on the nature of your business and the criticality of the information. Some organisations may require real-time archiving, while for others a daily or weekly backup will suffice. You’ll also need to decide which applications will be included in the backup, and how much data history should be retained.

Backup location

Secondly, you’ll need to determine where your backups will be stored. On-site storage may be cheap, but it means your information could be permanently lost in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster. Off-site storage eliminates this risk, but can make it more difficult to retrieve the data. A network outage could prevent you from accessing your cloud-based storage, and physical media held in a remote location may take some time to collect and transport.

For mission-critical data, best practice involves retaining two copies on separate physical devices, with a third copy stored in the cloud or at a remote location. Having two local copies delivers a reasonable measure of business continuity, allowing you to quickly continue with normal operations after the loss of one set of data.

Consider malware reaching your backup

Yes, your backups can also get “infected” with viruses, meaning that if your systems get hit by malware it can also expand to your backup solution. What to do?

First, and most basic step, is to have your backup secured, which means having your backup with password protection. The second, and still considered a basic measure, is to have your data encrypted, so if your systems get hit by malware, the encryption will “ask” the malware for a specific code to access your backed up data.

Ideally, and most recommended, is for your business to have a combination of different backup solutions, including an offline backup option like tape or cloud. As this type is generally not connected to the network, it won’t allow the virus to reach your backup and, in our opinion, having that combination is the safest way of safeguarding your data.

Click here to see a list of suggested security checks and measures!

Testing your backup

Finally, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, believing your data has been safely backed up. But have you tested to ensure the backups are working correctly? You never want to end up in a situation where you’re relying on your backup, only to discover the data isn’t there. That’s why it’s essential to test your backups on a regular basis to make certain the information has been properly recorded.

Performing such tests will also give you a baseline restoration time frame for disaster recovery planning purposes. If you know how long it takes to recover your data, then you can establish other processes and procedures accordingly.

Ultimately, your backup strategy will depend on your budget and the volume of data you need to store. However backups should always be secure, reliable and automatic. That means encrypting the data before it leaves your site, selecting an approach that gives you quick access to your information, and ensuring that the backups run autonomously without requiring human interaction.

Backups & disaster recovery

At Bremmar, we always recommend that your business backup and disaster recovery solution requirements are evaluated separately. A combination of both will assure that in the case of a minor or complete IT failure, caused by either power outages, fires or cyber-attacks, your business will be able recover all IT functions and continue to use essential systems and data.

If you’d like further assistance to design the optimum backup strategy for your business, or are unsure about your IT environment and would like to discuss your concerns with one of our IT consultants then contact Bremmar today on 1300 991 351 or email help@bremmar.com.au.

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What you haven’t been told about backups.

The right backup strategy could protect your business from disaster.