Data backup best practices

Data Backup Best Practices: Core Questions to Consider for Business Owners

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The data that your business is creating on a daily basis is more than just information sitting on a hard drive somewhere. In many ways, it represents everything you’ve already worked so hard to build. That data is synonymous with the work you’re doing for clients on a regular basis. It’s what your people need to do the jobs you need them to without compromise. It’s something to be protected at all costs – which is why data backup best practices are always far more important than people realize.

According to one recent study, more than 140,000 hard drives in the United States fail on a weekly basis. If you suffer data loss related to ransomware or some other type of security incident, it is estimated that you can expect to pay about $100,000 on average to get back up and running again.

Data loss is scary, but it’s also NOT something you have to let impact the way you work. Therefore, if you really want to make sure that your business is as protected as possible as far as data loss and data backup are concerned, there are a few critical things you’ll want to keep in mind.

The Art of Data Backups: Breaking Things Down

One of the most important concepts for you to understand ultimately comes down to the differences between a full backup, a differential backup and an incremental backup.

Full Backup

At its core, a full backup is exactly what it sounds like – every last kilobyte of data that you’re working with is backed up in a way that creates redundant copies for you to recover should the need arise.

Incremental Backup

Incremental backups, on the other hand, are designed to only back up the data that has changed since the PREVIOUS backup has taken place. So instead of backup up an additional copy of everything, you’re only backing up files that you’ve edited, new files that you’ve created, etc.

Differential Backup

Differential backups are similar to incremental backups, but with an important difference. Where an incremental backup will safeguard everything that has changed since the previous backup, a differential backup will archive everything that has changed since the last FULL backup.

Generally speaking, for the best results you’ll want to use a combination of all three of these techniques to keep your organization safe. Only then will you guarantee that A) all of your critical information is protected, and B) that you’re doing so in the most efficient, cost-effective and space-conscious ways possible.

Likewise, it’s equally important to understand the difference between on-site backups and off-site backups. Again, these are exactly what they sound like. An on-site backup would be one where you archive information to a storage device inside your physical business somewhere. An off-site backup might take that same information and safeguard it in a data center somewhere. Both techniques should be employed. Even if your entire business burns to the ground (thus eliminating your on-site backups), your off-site backups would still allow you to pick right back up again like nothing ever happened.

The Core Questions to Consider When Creating Your Data Backup Best Practices

As is true with technology in general, there is no “one size fits all” approach to data backup. So many of the decisions you make will be dictated by your unique business, what it needs and what it is trying to do.

Because of that, there are a number of important questions that you need to answer definitively BEFORE you start devising the right backup and data retention strategy to meet those needs. They include:

  • What data do you consider critical to your business? Certain types of information are less important than others. As a rule of thumb, pay particular attention to absolutely ANY piece of data that your business literally needs to function. If it would cause costly disruption to lose it, it needs to be backed up in the right ways. Files related to planning your next company picnic, for example, aren’t as important as deliverables that a client is expecting.
  • How often does your critical data change? If you have essential files that are changing on a daily basis, they need to be backed up on a daily basis. You need to know where that data is stored, who has access to it and more – all so that you can plan accordingly.
  • Who will be guaranteeing that the backups are tested and stored off-site? Just because your data is backed up doesn’t mean that those backups are impervious. They need to be checked for integrity on a regular basis to make sure they’re ready should you need them. Likewise, is this the responsibility of your business or your cloud storage provider? You MUST know the answer to that question so that you can plan accordingly.
  • How often should you backup data? Again – this will vary depending on your business. If your essential information changes frequently, you need to back it up frequently. If it doesn’t, your schedule can be a little looser than it otherwise will be.
  • How long will you retain each backup? This may very well be a question that has already been answered for you in terms of compliance. HIPAA, for example, is very precise about how long you need to keep information like patient electronic health records. Make sure you know what rules you must follow so that you can actually do that.
  • Are your backups encrypted and protected? If the answer to this question is “no,” all you’ve done is create a vulnerability that can be exploited by someone who knows what they’re doing. If your backups aren’t encrypted both in transit and at rest on a server, it can potentially be stolen and exploited. You MUST use encryption to protect that information at all costs.
  • How are you stacking your backup solutions? Redundancy is important in terms of data backups. On-site backups alone aren’t enough to get the job done – you need off-site backups, too. You shouldn’t just do incremental backups – you should periodically do full backups, too. Take MULTIPLE steps to protect your critical information so that you can avoid costly problems down the road.

Contact Outer Edge Technology Today

There’s an old saying that reminds us sometimes “the best defense is a good offense” – and that statement is absolutely true when it comes to your business’ data backup practices. Every second that your systems aren’t functioning properly is a second that your organization is losing money. By making sure that you’re following industry-leading data backup best practices, you can help guarantee that even if you do suffer from an unfortunate incident like hardware failure or even a data breach, you and your people can pick right back up again as quickly as possible so that you can continue to serve your own clients as well as you possibly can.

Get more information on our reliable Data Backup Services.

If you’d like to find out more information about data backup best practices, or if you’re just eager to discuss the specifics of your own situation with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact Outer Edge Technology today at  844-OET-EDGE.

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