Everyone would probably agree at this point that you should have backup. For your personal data and even more so for your business. Still, the backup landscape seems to be a bit like the wild west with a multitude of options out there and cloud file sharing that seems to blur the lines between file storage and true backup. In addition, backup has shifted from a solution to protect from hardware failures or fires to your very last line of defense when it comes to cybercrime. With all these things in mind, let’s take a look at what to consider when choosing a backup solution for your business:
- File & folder vs image-based
This one may seem like an old hat, yet many people still rely on file and folder backup, not considering the ramifications in a recovery event. Cloud file sharing services, such as OneNote seem to have given it revival with people thinking they are good to go by saving all their documents to the cloud. But the difference is pretty striking: Image-based backup will take a snapshot of your machine (server, PC) including all software, programming, OS, and all files and folders. This will save you invaluable time and money when it comes to recovery. There is no need to re-purchase new software and licensing or spend days of tech time rebuilding servers. For a business, image-based backup is a must, otherwise recovery can become very costly.
- RPO & RTO
Recovery Point Objective & Recovery Time Objective. Simply speaking this is about how much you are willing to rekey manually (RPO, aka how often do you need your data backed up) and how long you can afford to be down for (RTO). Both will be essential to determine how big of a priority backup should be in your IT budget; the shorter both time frames are, the more expensive the solution is.. Consider what your average revenue is per week/day/hour, and also your cost, e.g. you employees’ time. That will determine how long you can afford to be down or spare employees time to recreate data.
- Where are you backing up to?
With the vast amount of cloud backup options in the market, this is an increasingly important question. Simply using hard drives and trusting your employees to take them home at night is a big red flag in IT anymore and you are playing Russian roulette with your business. Regardless of the trustworthiness of your employees, human error is inevitable. Shooting your data off to an unknown overseas data center may not be much better, considering the amount of hacks and breaches. Find a partner you trust and have them explain to you exactly where your data will be residing.
- Cloud file storage vs backup
File sharing and storage services, such as OneNote, Dropbox or Google Drive, seem to be a great new alternative to backup, but be aware of the crucial differences. These services only store files and folders (see # 1). Also, these services are not designed to replace backup. Even if they track versions, they only keep those for so long before completely deleting them. They also do not protect from ransomware and other viruses. In fact, your files in the cloud will most likely be equally infected, as they will probably have synced with the local version before you notice the virus. Cloud file storage services are fantastic and can be a great easy fix when you accidentally delete a file, but they should not be your primary backup service for your business.
- Test your backup
It never fails: you have a backup service you feel confident about, then data Armageddon hits and you are scrambling trying to recover your data for the first time. Chances are it will take you much longer than anticipated, it does not work as well as promised, or in the worst case you find that the backup has not been working. Thankfully, most software programs available today alert you when a backup failed, so you can rule out the last scenario. Even so, you should plan and budget for a recovery test at least once a year. In this way, you become familiar with the process and you are putting your backup solution to the test! It's no different than doing fire drills with your staff; it will save you time and money during the real deal.
Those are some basics to consider for your backup solution. As usual with your IT, find a partner you trust that can help you get your business where it needs to be. If you’d like that to be Nex-Tech, give us a call! We’re here for you.