6 tips on backing up your data and files for World Backup Day

| By:
Wayne Selk, CDPSE

March 31 is World Backup Day, a day dedicated to backing up your documents, which is an excellent time to consider whether you’re really prepared for the worst. This critically important day serves as a reminder to review your backup strategy.

Research and review your backup strategy

If you don’t already have a strategy in place, today is the day to research your options, develop your strategy, and create your roadmap for implementing a robust backup plan. If you DO have a plan in place, review it carefully and consider whether it still covers what your business needs now and as you grow.

Whether your company is large, small, or somewhere in between, a data disaster could be the end of your company. According to Ponemon, 60 percent of SMBs experienced a loss or theft of sensitive data in the previous 12 months. That’s not a risk you want to take, so it’s time to make sure you have a tested backup strategy in place before it’s too late.

What are your backup options?

There are two main backup options you should consider, as well as the pros and cons to each approach.

  1. Local backup: an external hard drive that can be easily retrieved at home
    Pro: easy to access and control
    Con: vulnerable to local incidents like fire and flood, or human error when disks/tapes aren’t swapped
  2. Cloud/off-site backup: an online backup service or hard drive securely placed in a different location
    Pro: easy to access from anywhere and safe from local issues
    Con: more complicated to secure, vulnerable to human error if techs aren’t confirming backups
  3. Offline backup: An online backup service or hard drive which is then disconnected from the network or system and securely placed in a different location
    Pro: easily accessible, mobile, and secure from cybersecurity breaches
    Con: vulnerable to loss or theft, hardware damage from environmental impacts, and technological failure"

If you want to be as effective as possible when it comes to your backup and disaster recovery, you’ll opt for both backup options to cover every possible avenue for a full recovery of your vital business data.

What’s your backup strategy?

If you lose a critical system, are infected with a virus, or become a victim of ransomware, you could be looking at business-crippling downtime. Once you’ve decided on the right backup option, you’ll need to plan out a specific strategy that includes security controls and monitoring to prevent that lifeline from failing in the face of a critical event.

You’ll also need to consider exactly how long your business can survive being down and build your strategy to ensure you’re back up and running before you hit that timeline. Make sure your backups are scheduled well in advance of that timeframe so that you can account for unforeseen circumstances and get your data back online faster.

Prioritize what to backup rirst

You’ve chosen your backup option—hopefully you’ve chosen both—and taken into account exactly how long you can be offline before your business suffers irreparable damage. Now you need to create a specific priority list for each of your systems categories so that you have a clear plan of action when it’s time to implement your recovery plans. We recommend the following order, which can be adjusted to fit your specific business needs:

  1. Finance systems
  2. Business systems
  3. Operations
  4. Customer service
  5. Marketing and sales

If thinking of it by application makes more sense for your business, start with this list instead:

  1. ERP
  2. EMH/EHR (healthcare)
  3. Email (Exchange/O365, etc.)
  4. File servers and file systems
  5. Actual servers, workstations, laptops, etc.
Follow these backup best practices

To celebrate World Backup Day, here’s a quick list of six tips for helping keep your business prepared to recover from the worst day.

  1. Keep a hard copy of procedures and contact information. Review these procedures regularly to keep them up to date, anddate and remember to test them regularly.
  2. Ensure your plan includes the priority restore list we mentioned above. Focus on getting your business back online as quickly as possible by prioritizing the systems or teams you need most and working backward from there.
  3. Keep isolated backup systems that are regularly tested. If you choose local backup, protect yourself with a cloud option that uses separate MFA credentials.
  4. Check your backup routines often to confirm they are running as intended. Test at least twice a month and be prepared to improve your processes as gaps or issues are uncovered. You don’t want to discover an issue in the midst of a real disaster.
  5. If an incident does occur, restart your backup routine ASAP. Back up everything, even encrypted or infected machines, to create a recovery path in case containment or remediation steps destroy data.
  6. Clock your restore time. Make sure the time it takes to get back up and running fits your business downtime threshold. If your current solutions or providers aren’t meeting your needs, or your bandwidth can’t handle your cloud strategy, it might be time to ask for support.

Whether you’re going local, cloud, or both, these six tips are a necessary part of a strong backup strategy. By following them, you’ll minimize the impact of a crisis and significantly reduce downtime.

You’re not alone

Backup and disaster recovery plans (and their implementation) are a big job. They require focus and an investment in resources to be done properly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Outsourcing your backup strategy can be a simple way to gain serious peace of mind. A professional service provider can handle everything from support to periodic testing for your data backup and restoration.