Most IT experts will agree that in order for a business to survive a data disaster, they need some sort of data backup plan or business continuity plan in place. Regardless of the type of plan, or systems integrated, all of your IT systems need to have at least one backup copy. In the last blog, we took a look at the first four tips to help improve your data backups, let’s continue in this part 2 blog with the final four tips.
5. Automate your backups
It can be challenging to remember to back up your data files by memory, especially if your business can become hectic at times. Therefore, you should look into an automated data backup solution. At the very least, you should set a schedule as to when the data backups are conducted and set-up what is backed up. While this is not complete data backup automation, a schedule will insure the copy is created even if you or your IT personnel become busy and forget to make a backup copy.
If you are using data backup solutions like a Cloud Service Provider or NAS (Network Attached Storage) within your office, you can usually automate the process by selecting which files and folders to back up and schedule when they are backed up. The software that powers these solutions will then do this automatically and will often send an email out after the job is run notifying you if it was successful or not. There have been cases where employees have become frustrated by an unsuccessful backup process and simply turned the backup job off. The business owner, thinking their data was being backed up would be in for a bit of a shock when systems crashed. Automation also insures that your backups begin to have reliability and a higher likelihood of a successful restoration if needed.
6. Back up your backups
Copies of your backups are just as important as actually backing up your data. You should keep a second copy of your data backup image just in case something happens to your original backup. While this doesn't have to be carried out as often as the 'regular scheduled' backup, this should be done on a scheduled basis. In order to really ensure backup redundancy we recommend that if your main backup is kept on-site, then the secondary backup should be on another storage medium that is kept off-site. Here at ANP we make backup copies every 30 minutes to an on-location NAS and then copy all the data that changes each night up to our Cloud storage located in Toronto. This gives ANP many backup copies of the data dispersed across different media, and located at different locations.
7. Don't forget data stored on non-physical drives
What I am referring to here is the data stored on different Cloud services for example: your outsourced email, Drop Box files, and non-physical locations. This is especially true if you say have you own servers. It's highly likely that there is company data scattered around on these Cloud services as well, and should they go down and you haven't kept a backup, you may lose important company information.
Essentially, think about critical data that is used in the company, but isn't physically kept on computers. It may feel like this is going a step too far with backups, especially for businesses who use email services like Office 365 or Gmail, however, while the chances of these systems going down are incredibly rare, it could still happen. Therefore, you should conduct a monthly to bi-yearly backup image of the mail boxes just to ensure that Cloud based data is backed up should something happen.
8. Test the viability of your backups
Finally, it is beneficial to actually test your backups from time-to-time to ensure that they are not only working but the data is actually recoverable. If you are getting messages that your automated backups are running successfully, and as a result, you never test them. It would be awful to find out when you actually need to do a restoral, that although the backups were running perfectly, not all of the data that was needed was ever backed-up.
If you do a trial run on recovering your data, you can get a good idea of how long it will take to retrieve this information when you actually need to recover it and you will also confirm that you are backing up everything you need to have a successful restoration. Also, testing is a good way to discover any personnel problems, such as if someone has disabled backups, or someone doesn’t know how to get a successful restoral. This will ensure that your data is there when you need it, and you have trained people ready to recover it.
This completes our two part blog on small business data backups. I hope this was interesting and valuable to you. Want to learn more about small business data backups, disaster recovery plans, and disaster recovery services? Sign up for our Free IT Webinar this month HERE. Not ready to meet yet? You can download a great free white paper about disaster recovery planning HERE.