You have a lot of options when considering data backup solutions for your organization, from cloud-based storage to external drives and tape cartridges. (Our post, “Basics of Data Backup” is a good place to start.)
However, just because your company backs up its data doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re prepared for an IT disaster. Your backups are only worthwhile if they’re effective and meet your business and operational needs.
Here are five issues you must consider to ensure complete and timely data restoration after an IT disaster:
Make sure data backup solutions are functioning properly
Whatever data solutions you opt for, you need to check that they work reliably. Two recent articles — one from IT Canada and the other from Data Center Knowledge — point out instances where companies needed to restore data from backups and discovered, to their horror, that they were missing a lot of data. Maybe the data backup solution malfunctioned or failed to encompass all devices. Regardless of the cause, these companies found out too late that they had no data to restore. Permanent data loss can lead to steep financial costs and missed opportunities to attract or retain customers. The takeaway? Test your backup solutions and perform restorations to ensure that they’re capturing complete copies of your data.
Choose backup solutions based on how quickly you’ll need to restore certain kinds of data
Should you sustain an IT disaster, your most critical data will require rapid restoration. If you go without it for too long, you’ll sustain irrevocable financial losses. Other kinds of data may not require quick restoration; these are the kinds of data that you access less frequently and that are less important to your daily operations. Make sure to tailor the backup method to the data. Restoring data from tape cartridges, for example, could take a while, sometimes days or even weeks, especially if the tapes are stored off-site (which they should be). For critical files, we never recommend relying solely on tape. You will likely want to select a cloud-based solution that allows you to quickly retrieve and restore copies of the important data.
Use quantifiable measures to inform your data backup decisions
In backup, a lot rides on two questions: How frequently do you need to back up a certain kind of data? And, how long could you sustain the loss of this data before your company begins to suffer significant financial repercussions? To answer these questions, you need to calculate the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) for different kinds of data. For critical data, you may need to perform continuous backups, but other data could only require backups once a day or even weekly. Similarly, you’ll need some kinds of data restored quickly, while with other kinds you can afford a greater delay. Understand how your organization relies on different kinds of data so you can make smart decisions about how to protect it.
Update your backup solutions when necessary
New technologies emerge regularly, offering more reliable, secure, and cost-effective ways to back up data. Don’t simply stick to the same solutions. Maybe there are improved backup methods available, better suited to your data. Also, make sure your data backup solutions change to include any new devices you incorporate into your network, like mobile devices, or any new kinds of data you’re creating, such as especially large files.
Prepare for the future
Businesses and other organizations generate enormous and growing quantities of data. In addition to finding powerful ways to back up the data you have now, think about how your needs will change in the future. Ideally, your data backup solutions will allow you to accommodate an expanding volume of data, without compromising security and reliability.
Time to re-evaluate your backup?
Even if you currently rely on what you assume are strong data backup solutions, evaluate them on an annual basis for weaknesses and consider how you can improve them. When it comes to data backup, your greatest enemy is complacency: you may fail to notice that your backup solutions aren’t working properly or that you would not be able to rely on them for timely data restoration when you need it most.
If you have any questions or concerns about your data backup, be sure to contact us. We would love to chat.