Data backups are when you make a copy of your data to be used in the event that the original copy is made unable, lost or destroyed. Having reliable backups is one of the most important controls that a company can have to prevent long term damage following a data breach. If your company suffers a ransomware attack for example, and all of your information is encrypted, if you have good quality backups you may only be at risk of losing 1 weeks worth of data or less, depending on how regularly you backup information. As opposed to a company that only does it every 6 months or never, you may be in a position where you have to pay the ransom or go out of business altogether.
Also, backups are important even if your company is never hacked. Accidents happen all the time, physical devices may get damaged, stolen or just reach their end of life and shut down unexpectedly.
For many reasons it’s important to have regular backups of your important information, fortunately with cloud services it’s easier than ever to have regular backups done and stored off site, but it still requires you to set up the schedule and understand the best practices for creating, storing and restoring from data backups.
What are the 3 types of data backups?
Full Backups: Full backups are pretty much as they sound, you are taking a copy of all the data in your environment or subsection of the environment. Full backups are the fastest to recover from but are the most expensive and require the most amount of storage space.
Differential Backups: These backups make copies of all the files that have been created or changed since the last full backup. Differential backups save money and time because they don’t backup any files that were saved in the last full backup. The downside is that it takes longer to recover from differential backups because you need access to the full backup and the differential backup that followed it.
Incremental Backups: Incremental backups are similar to differential backups but they only cover the data that was changed after the last backup of any type. This means whether it was a full backup, differential backup or incremental backup it doesn’t matter. This is in contrast to a differential backup that will capture all files changed since the last full backup.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Not doing any Backups: Backups are a precautionary measure so it’s easy for you to never get around to setting it up, feeling like you’ll never need it or assume that a particular piece of information isn’t important. It’s important to create backups on a regular basis. How often you do backups depends on how important the information is but you need to decide how long you can go without a piece of information and base your backups around that timeline.
Saving backups on the same piece of Hardware: The purpose of a backup is to have a safe copy available for times of emergency. To be an effective backup that data should be kept in a location separate from the original. That way if something does go wrong with that system, both the backup and the original are not compromised at the same time. Ideally, you want to have offsite backups, which can be stored in the cloud so that in the event of a catastrophic disaster that affects your entire office space, you will still have a copy of your data to help you recover. Here you can find an article that outlines some of the different backup strategies that you can use to ensure that you are resilient in the event of a data loss.
Not testing the backup: Testing a backup is as important as creating the backup itself. A backup is only useful if you can use it to recover files when you need it. Therefore, you must test your backups to make sure they function correctly and you know how to restore information on demand. If you have to spend extra time learning how to restore your information, that’s extra downtime for your business.
Not doing backups frequently enough: It’s important to make regular backups based on how much information you are willing to lose. Some people do backups every month and that means that any work you do during the month can be lost at any time. Make sure to align with your backup schedule with how much data you are willing to lose.
Label your backups: You want to ensure that you have a record of which archive is from which piece of hardware. This won’t apply for very small businesses but for large companies you need to make sure that you organize your backups correctly so they can be easily found when you need them.
Data backups are important to ensure you are protected in the event of hardware failure, natural disaster, cyberattacks or just a careless mistake. Data loss can be a huge cost to a company and depending on how much information is lost, it may be impossible for the company to recover. That’s why it’s important to have data backups done regularly and stored in multiple locations outside of hardware that the original data is held on, this means having local and offsite backups. Designing and implementing a data backup schedule does take time and money but it’s good assurance for your business. If you’re interested in how to properly apply data backups in your company, here is a whitepaper I found that may be useful to you.