Having the right backup solution can save your company from losing important data, having to pay a ransom to retrieve it, or potentially costing your business the valuable secrets that keep it competitive. At the very least, nobody wants to re-key all of their accounting data if something goes wrong after, say, a long period-end process. These are all real consequences that have brought clients to us for help and a plan.
Still, it’s difficult to know how to begin developing a backup plan without some guidance. Here are some key questions we ask when helping customers design a new backup strategy…or evaluate the effectiveness of a current one:
- Data Location: What presently happens if your business computer loses its data due to failure or your laptop gets stolen? Are your documents stored on a server that is physically connected to your network? Or are they redirected to a cloud service that is accessible from anywhere? Where do you want your business’s data to be stored?
- Recovery Speed: If you accidentally delete data in a given application, how quickly do you need to recover the information? For example, if you overwrite work you’ve completed in your accounting software, how soon do you need the incorrect information replaced with the accurate data? How about your email application? Your process documents? It’s critical to figure out what you need and how fast you need it. How should your information be prioritized when it comes to restoring it?
- Storage History: How far back do your current backups go? More important, how far back do they need to go? Some backup systems allow the last saved version of a single file to be recovered, while others go back months and even years with retrievable data. Some backup solutions include detailed versioning, though this isn’t always practical - or even useful - on a company-wide level. Disk space can also be a concern for organizations with a high volume of large files. What do you need to get to, and how far back might you need to get it?
- Action Plan: When you computer fails or gets locked by ransomware, and you need your data restored, what are the first steps you take? Do you have a true, redundant disaster recovery plan or just simple backup files residing in a single location somewhere? In either case, how do you get to all that data? Even the best backup files do very little good if you don’t know how to access them. What is the process for retrieving your information and getting life back to normal?
As we work with customers to answer these questions and design their backup strategies, we frequently rely on the foundation of the 3-2-1 backup rule. In a nutshell, have at least three copies of your data, store the copies on two different media formats, keep one backup copy offsite. Here are the details:
3. Have three copies of your data. One copy is your live data that you continue to work with. The second copy is your local, on-site data typically stored on a centralized file server. The third copy is one that is routinely taken off-site.
2. Have two different types of media. Don't take backups of your virtual servers and store those backups with the very same storage as your main servers (this may seem obvious, but we see this practice way more than you might think). Instead, send those on-site backups to a dedicated backup server/device. Moreover - and this is key - make sure that device can be accessed without needing the main server to be functional. In other words, no centralized authentication should be necessary to activate those backup stores - which is not the same thing as not being secured.1. Keep at least one copy off-site. This remote copy can be a set of rotated hard drives or, for easier access, a copy in the cloud stored with a hosting vendor. Whatever solution you use, make sure that anything leaving your business is encrypted and that you can get at that data when needed. Nobody wants want unencrypted hard drives stolen from the back of someone's car.
Do you need some assistance as you answer these questions and design your company’s backup and disaster recovery strategies? Our experts can help and provide secure solutions that you can be confident in…and that will allow you to sleep soundly at night.