Data backup – what data should your business back up, and when?

05 Nov 2018

Backing up data for businesses is imperative, as losing data can cause wide-ranging and serious problems for a business’ operation and reputation. There are many different types of backup available, as well as different ways to use them, and we’re here to help you figure out which best protects the data you create and store.

For example, you may be wondering which aspects of your data you need to back up, and which back-up strategy can ensure the business continuity you depend on. If so, you’re reading the right blog…

What is cloud data backup for business, and why is it important?

This might sound obvious, but so many businesses and organisations overlook not only how crucial it is to back up their data, but also to factor in the types of backup, and the volume and sensitivity of different types of data when choosing the right backup strategy. In fact, the backing up of data is the easy bit – it’s deciding how to back up data, and how often, that can be tricky. It merits serious consideration though, as it can mean the difference between full business continuity in the event of data loss, or serious problems with data compromise that may well harm your reputation. If your business stores personal or operationally critical data that you need to assure the security of, or use minute by minute as part of what you do, you need to know that both are achievable with the backup strategy you choose. Businesses of all kinds depend increasingly on data, so it makes sense to protect it (and ensure seamless access to it) should anything go wrong with your IT.

The most common ways to back up data:

  • Tape BackupTraditionally the most common form of backup. Data is written to tape on a daily basis and it is up to the IT administrator to ensure that these tapes are taken offsite each day. A strict regime of multiple backup tapes and rotated in order needs to be adhered to. Tapes are known to fail and have a limited lifespan, so need to be tested often.
  • Onsite NAS (Network-attached storage)
  • Perhaps the most common way to back up data, and a simple approach to sharing files between networked computers, this typically involves attaching hard disk drives in a RAID configuration to make it an easier and safer way to back up different types of data than simply attaching standalone external drives to computers (including those that act solely as servers).
  • Cloud-based Backup or storage
  • Alternatively, you can avoid hardware backup solutions entirely and use a cloud data backup service. Storing and protecting data this way has revolutionised backup, and streamlined storage and retrieval of different types of data. There are simple consumer-grade options for cloud backup, such as iCloud – or more robust and secure types of backup (such as those that include encryption) that keep your sensitive data safe whatever happens to your hardware. BackupVault is an example of a premium business grade cloud backup service.

Which you choose – or most likely the balance of both you go for – should reflect the kind of business, and the different types of data it creates. A small business that creates and stores non-sensitive data might hold current or recent data in a simple cloud solution, and move older data onto a hard drive stored away from the premises. Meanwhile, a larger operation that holds transactional and personal data should consider encrypted cloud-based backups as well as perhaps an off-site cloud based disaster recovery solution.

What data should I back up – and when?

Any data that you need access to in order to maintain ‘business as usual’ needs backing up. Also, any personal data you hold, such as customer profiles, transactional details – or any legal or financial information – needs a secure storage and access solution. As for when (ie. how often), that really depends on the kind of business you operate and the data it creates, stores and depends on.

An often overlooked type of data that is missed from backups are MS SQL and MySQL databases. If you have these running within your business it is critical that these are correctly backed up.

Websites or web-connected internal systems that create, use and depend on continuously updated and/or personal and private data should back up almost continuously – in some cases every few seconds – to avoid potentially serious problems if IT fails. Purely information-sharing or entertainment websites that don’t harvest personal or transactional details, or depend on up-to-the-second data, can comfortably backup once or twice a day. It’s probably best to ask an IT expert for help choosing the backup strategy that’s best for you. In both scenarios, an incremental backup, whereby only new or altered data is stored (rather than all of it) can be a more efficient approach.

Cloud data backup

Private individuals, SMEs, and large businesses and organisations are increasingly using cloud backup solutions such as those provided by BackupVault, to store and protect their data. An offsite cloud backup solution can enable quick recovery of data in the event of a sudden but small failure, and is great for business continuity while hardware problems are rectified. For example, if you lose your laptop, or your desktop’s hard drive fails, you can restore data and files – either to alternative devices, or to the original hardware once any issues are resolved.

Cloud backups are ideal for protecting files and data on a larger scale, too. Individuals, organisations and businesses that create or depend on large amounts of critical data can easily automate backups from physical servers to cloud servers, and a business cloud server backup is a great way to protect business-critical data against hardware loss or failure.

However, when we get into the realm of large physical servers that are crucial to day-to-day operations and business continuity, server cloud backups should be considered just one part of a wider strategy to keep different types of data not just safe, but also accessible.This is where disaster recovery comes highly recommended…

Find out more about disaster recovery here. <internal link>

About BackupVault

BackupVault provides fully automated, hassle-free, UK-based backup services to organisations all over the world – from small business to global brands, to public-sector clients and large corporate enterprises.

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