Your Data Backup: The Keystone Way
by Brett Scott
Forget data backup, most business owners I talk to think their hardware is vital to their business. And they’re right, so long as it’s working. If your server, firewall, and workstations are literally on fire, under three feet of water, or hanging precariously between the branches of a pine tree after being deposited by a tornado, your hardware isn’t much of a concern. You’ve got far bigger problems, the biggest of which is where is your mission critical data?
You may be thinking “Yeah, but I’ve got to buy all new hardware!” That’s a great problem. You can buy new hardware. You can’t buy your data. Your network begins and ends with the information it transmits; that data that YOU created and doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.
There are a lot of things every business should have that they hopefully won’t need: a fire extinguisher, a plunger, and a Backup and Disaster Recovery solution. Each of them is exceptionally important in their own way, and each of them should be obtained before their need arises.
A BDR solution is made up of multiple parts, each with its own crucial task. It’s right there in the name: Backup and Disaster Recovery. These two halves each play an integral part in ensuring your business continuity.
Backup: This half of the BDR consists of exactly what it says on the box. It is there to ensure that your data is backed up, safely preserved in case something were to happen to your local files. Simply put, it’s an extra copy of your data to replace the original if a situation (like a power outage or a ransomware attack) were to destroy, lock, or otherwise make the original files inaccessible.
Disaster Recovery: As for the Disaster Recovery portion of BDR, this is the half that presumes that the worst has happened. In other words, it is for when a natural disaster, weather event, or some other unfortunate circumstance has caused serious harm to not only your data, but the equipment you use to access it, and your location itself. In response to this possibility, the BDR enables a business to have a fallback that enables operations to resume as rapidly as possible.
Data Backup Principles: The Keystone Way
A. On-Site Backup.
Everyone should back up their data and server configuration locally according to The Keystone Way. The need for data backup you probably understand after reading the introduction, but why the server configuration? Your server configuration tells your data and all the hardware on your network how to act. It stores your network user accounts (and passwords) and security settings. It tells accounting “yes, you can see Quickbooks” and tells everyone else “you’re not welcome here.” If you don’t have that information, you’re essentially starting over from scratch. All the work your IT consultant put into (and that you paid for) making your network run smoothly will be lost, and you’ll get to pay for it all again — while enduring possibly days of downtime.
Should your server hardware have some serious issues, it’s possible to even run your network from the hardware devices we now in stall to store local data copies. It isn’t ideal, but it will work. These devices are an investment in keeping your data safe, accessible, and secure.
B. Off-Site Backup.
Should that On-Site Backup be floating down the Cumberland River, you’d better have a contingency plan: The Off-Site Backup. The Keystone Way is to have another copy of your data in a location that is not near you geographically. There is a plethora of different options available to back up your data. And no, I’m not talking about DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Those are NOT off-site backups. DropBox, OneDrive, and Google Drive are cloud-based storage. If your DropBox files get compromised in some way (CryptoLocker/Wall virus?), there is no hope. A legitimate Off-Site Backup solution will copy ALL your data across your entire network. These backups are used in case your local presence (and data) no longer exists.
Crucial Data Backup Questions
All of this is well and good, but if your data backup is done improperly, incompletely, or infrequently, then your good intentions are equivalent to if you didn’t act at all. These are the questions you need to know the answers to when it comes to your data backup.
Is the right data being backed up?
To determine this, identify what information your business needs to function and what data is effectively irreplaceable. This information should be your top priority to preserve against potential data loss. Consider what data your business simply could not function without and make sure to preserve that data. Once that is protected, determine the next highest priority to preserve, and so on.
How often is data being backed up?
Think of all that you accomplish in a day, a week, a month. In the interest of not losing progress, a backup should be taken as often as possible. For example, an automatic incremental backup could be taken as often as every fifteen minutes with modern backup solutions. This way, your data loss is minimized, allowing you to continue with your day with as little interruption as possible.
How long does it take to restore your data?
While many backups have traditionally taken hours or even days to complete before productivity could resume, those days are in the past. With today’s technology, your files can be run directly off the backup as the data is being restored. This effectively puts you back in business almost immediately, minimizing the ill effects of data loss on your productivity.
Is your data being backed up properly?
When backing up files in a workplace, the originals should not be located on an individual workstation. Instead, save files to a centralized network, which itself should back up. That way, a malfunctioning workstation won’t cost you critical data.
Is your backup secure?
This may be the most crucial consideration you make when backing up. After all, having an insecure backup is no better than not having a backup at all. 67.2% of data loss in businesses is due to hacking. Your data needs to be encrypted before it is stored in an offsite location to ensure it is protected and safe from an event that affects your place of business.
A reliable backup solution is one of the most important things that a business can implement. Keystone can help you put a backup solution in place that meets all these considerations. We’re a Nashville IT company who specializes in taking IT off your plate, so you can concentrate on running your business.