I need reliable data backup

The ability to recover from data loss through holding proper backups has become an essential part of ICT delivery.
If your organisation uses or stores information of any kind, then data integrity and security should be one of your primary concerns. In a post-GDPR landscape, where data protection is more critical than ever, a data breach could have a devastating impact on your organisation, regardless of its size. There are many causes of data loss in the workplace.

Viruses and malware are a significant threat, but several other issues can compromise the integrity of the data you store. Human error, hard drive damage, power outages, datacentre or server failure, hacking or hardware theft and software corruption can all lead to data loss, which can have a significant impact. Large-scale data breaches can result in huge fines and reputational damage. In contrast, even small data losses can cost your organisation in downtime and lost revenue. Data backup is when your files or data are copied and stored in a separate location.

If the original files become lost or damaged, backup software is used to restore them from the copy. As you move into the cloud you need to ensure you continue to make backups of your data – whether in cloud or on-premise, but you also have the opportunity to replicate your backups to cloud.

Why is data backup important?

Regularly backing up your data, and having confidence – through experience – that you can restore emails, database records, files, individual servers, or groups of servers that make up an application, is absolutely essential. A data breach or other disaster could cripple your systems or leave your organisation without essential data for an extended period. Having an effective backup solution enables your organisation to retrieve and restore any lost data quickly.

This can help minimise potential downtime and disruption and satisfy user demand for instant access to data and hardware.
However, backing up and restoring your data can take time, especially if you have a large or complex ICT environment with multiple users, servers and applications. Wherever possible, it’s always best to schedule a backup out of hours to keep disruption to a minimum. However, for transactional services such as email, CRMs and HR systems, backup needs to be almost continual.

Depending on your software and operating systems, it should be easy to automate this process, so it happens in the background and at a time that’s most convenient to your organisation. The backup plan should make clear what data is backed up, how many copies are made, where it is stored, and long it is retained for, and how data is restored if it’s lost. This will not only help determine how quickly your organisation can recover in the event of a disaster but also help you understand what resources and technology you need to get back up and running as soon as possible. An external ICT consultant will be able to provide the technical leadership and expertise required to develop a robust disaster recovery plan that meets your organisational requirements and objectives.

How do I approach data backup?

There are four main methods of data backup and restoration, which vary in scope and complexity. However, best practice dictates that three copies of backups should be kept, one local, one remote and one offline/immutable. The National Cyber Security Centre has recently stated that an offline/immutable backup should be considered to help protect against ‘cryptoware’ attacks, where an online backup is at risk of being encrypted along with the original servers. Because offline/immutable data cannot be deleted or altered, this means that at least one of your backups will always be available. An external ICT consultant will help you to understand the options available and which may be the best solution for your organisational needs.

Local backup

The quickest and most straightforward way to back your data up is by making a local copy. With this method, all your data is copied and saved to a local server and kept in the same location as your devices. While this method is excellent for retrieving lost data and files quickly, if anything were to happen to the server they are saved on, they will be lost forever.

Offsite backup

With an offsite backup method, your data is copied to removable media, such as disks, drives or tapes, which are then stored at a separate location away from your premises. In the event of a fire or similar emergency at your workplace, your data will be safe because it’s stored in a remote location. While this method can better maintain the integrity of your data, accessing and restoring it can be more time consuming. You’ll also need to consider any offsite storage and security costs. The problem with offsite backup is that it is not readily available to use in restorations and costs more to keep. An alternative is to store one copy of the backups on immutable (unchangeable) storage in the cloud.

Cloud-only backup

Instead of copying and storing your data to a physical disk or server, it can be copied to cloud-based storage. There are several benefits to cloud backups. They can be automated and run regularly to ensure your data is as up-to-date as possible. Most cloud vendors use an encrypted connection to keep your data secure, and once it has been uploaded, it will be protected by the vendor’s robust security systems. Recovering and restoring your data can also be done quickly, to help get your essential systems and applications back up-and-running in the event of an emergency. Cloud backup solutions also tend to be more cost-effective than investing in physical storage, as you pay only for what you need and don’t have the costs associated with maintaining your on-premise or off-premise storage.

Hybrid backup

The final solution is a ‘best of both worlds’ option, where a backup server local to the data its backing up can be used and then the data replicated to a remote backup server or servers. For source servers in the cloud, the backup is held locally in the cloud, and the remote copy is help on-premise or elsewhere in the cloud. For source servers on-premise the backup is stored locally on-premise, the remote copy is held in the cloud. This means that in the event of a local data loss, recovery can be made quickly using the local backups, or if necessary, the recovery can be executed remotely, and restoration completed to an alternative location. This has the added advantage of having more than one copy of some or all of your data, meaning that if one method fails, you’ll still be able to retrieve it easily via the other one.

While regularly backing up your data should be done as best practice, your backup and disaster recovery plans will determine how quickly and easily you can retrieve your data in an emergency. As we said earlier, having a detailed, documented plan in place is essential, as is testing it regularly to make sure it works as it should, and addressing any weak spots before they become issues. An external ICT consultant can often provide an impartial view as well as advise on what works well for similar organisations.

Find out more

AMDH Services Ltd has a wealth of experience in the design and implementation of data backup and recovery solutions, so we know how to make them a success. We can provide you with the best technical expertise at the right cost to enhance the overall value of your investment in our services. To find out more, get in touch for an informal chat and a free consultation.