March 31 is World Backup Day and a reasonable time to explore the importance of data backup. Data backup is one of the most fundamental aspects of cybersecurity, good digital hygiene, and protecting your organizational continuity.
The move to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year has only made backup more vital than ever, as more people are working from home without high-level data and network protection.
Relying on a single storage space for your data is asking for trouble. Loss, theft, or damage become irretrievable disasters if you aren’t backing up your information adequately.
So we thought we’d run through ten things you need to know about data backup. A mix of knowledge sharing, good practice, and hints and tips, this post should give you everything you need to keep your data safe and secure on World Backup Day this year!
How Does Data Loss Happen?
There is an almost unending variety of different ways you can lose your data.
Technological failure – a hard drive crash or a computer malfunction can make accessing your data impossible, rendering it useless.
Theft – your laptop, mobile device, or external hard drive could be stolen from you, along with everything stored on it. According to the FBI, 97% of stolen computers are never recovered.
Damage – a dropped device could cause irretrievable damage to its storage capabilities. A disaster like a flood or a fire could destroy servers or ruin paper copy backups.
Accidental loss – it is not uncommon for information to be deleted by accident, with a careless click of a mouse having huge repercussions.
Cybercrime – your servers could be hacked or hijacked by malware or your files encrypted by a ransomware attack.
What Makes a Good Data Backup Regime?
Backing up is not just about saving your data in more than one place. A good data regime relies on a few key steps.
First, it needs to be a regular occurrence. It is no use just saving everything once and forgetting about it. Your backup regime should be an ongoing process, and backups should take place often.
Second, you need to back up to reliable locations. Your regime is not secure if you store your data on insecure devices, no matter how many of them you might use.
Third, if you are storing your data in physical storage devices, they should be stored in a different location than the originals. This means in the event of a disaster, you are less likely to lose it all.
Archive vs Backup
Although both processes involve the same concept – storing data in multiple locations – there is a difference between backing up and archiving.
Archiving is all about long-term storage, saving data that is no longer needed on a day-to-day basis but might be useful in the future. Archiving can be an irregular occurrence, storing large amounts of non-current data all in one go.
Backing up, on the other hand, is about storing data that is still in use to protect against data loss. Backups should take place often at regular intervals.
It should go without saying that both processes are important for an organization!
How Often Should you Backup?
The answer to this question is really as often as you possibly can! Backing up your data every night at the end of the working day is the best way to ensure that nothing is lost, as even losing one day’s worth of information and work can be damaging.
Guaranteeing regular manual backups can be a challenge, but there are plenty of programs that automatically set backups to whatever schedule you set.
Types of Backup
Up in the Cloud
Cloud storage is one of the most effective and secure ways to backup your data, particularly for small businesses. Cloud storage services save your data in multiple locations at independent data centers around the world, meaning that your data is as secure as it possibly can be. Using services like Backblaze and Arc allows you to double-encrypt your data, meaning that even if it is intercepted, it can only be accessed by you.
Keeping it Local
Of course, even the most secure cloud storage services still have vulnerabilities, and cybercriminals are increasingly subtle, nuanced, and innovative in seeking out opportunities to breach systems and networks. This is why local data backups still have a place in tandem with cloud storage.
USB drives are portable, fast, and reliable and represent a good option for extra backup locations. USB sticks are always increasing in capacity, which means they can store more and more data, allowing them to be used for certain small data backups in place of external hard drives. Their portability does come with a cost, though, as the possibility of loss or theft is higher and represents an additional vulnerability. If using USB drives, always ensure you encrypt your data and make sure that your staff are fully aware of the need to be vigilant and security-minded.
External Hard Drives
External hard drives are a great, inexpensive option for small businesses and far more cost-effective and easy to use than many other physical backup solutions.
Local Data Networking
Plenty of organizations run on a local area network (LAN), allowing you to back up data locally to another computer or server. It is worth considering that LAN storage will usually be in the same physical location as the original (somewhere else in the same office), which means in the event of a disaster, it can be lost at the same time as the original.
Data on Tape
Tape backups are a favourite method of backup amongst tech-minded folk, despite their low-fi nature. They don’t degrade in the same way as other physical storage options, are extremely reliable, and have a huge data storage capacity.
Data backup is a vital part of an organization’s security protocols, its best defence against disaster, and the failsafe that ensures business continuity. Whatever else you do this World Backup Day, make sure you store your data safely and securely, and remember – there is no such thing as too many backups!