According to FEMA only 40% of businesses survive after a data loss. Are you comfortable with those odds? I know I’m not. Every business thinks they’re safe from data loss until it happens. And, by then, it’s too late to save your data.
Protect your data and, in turn, your business by planning and developing a solid backup and recovery strategy. To help you get started, we’re sharing a step-by-step guide for putting a concrete backup plan in place.
1) Determine what data should be backed up
The first step in any backup strategy is to figure out what data needs to be backed up. This sounds easy enough, but it can be tricky. Sure, you know where you’re storing your data, but what about your employees? They could be storing business data in any number of places:
- File servers
- Local hard drives
- Local USB hard drives
- USB thumb drives
Speak to each employee about where they store their data and then confirm. Pay close attention to any files containing sensitive business information such as financial data, property and tax information, employee records, marketing and sales information, and so on. These should be the first files you recover in the event of a disaster or breach, as they’re essential to keeping your business successful and running smoothly.
2) Create a backup schedule
You never know when disaster may strike or a hacker will break into your network. That’s why it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Get into the habit of backing up your critical data on a regular basis. You don’t want to find out that your last backup is 5 months old after you’ve suffered a catastrophic data loss.
Ensure backups are done in a consistent and timely manner by creating a backup schedule. This schedule should answer all of these questions:
- Who is backing up the data?
- What data are we backing up?
- How often are we backing up this data?
The best way to approach this is to list out all of your data and sort it by priority. Any business data that you can’t afford to lose should be the highest priority. Also, any data that changes frequently should be backed up as often as possible. That way, you keep your data backups up-to-date and avoid risk.
3) Know your options
There’s no one-size-fits-all backup solution. The best option for you largely depends on your business, its unique requirements, and your IT budget and resources. Let’s take a look at the most common backup methods to help you decide on the right one for your company:
Tape backup systems
Tape backup systems are one of the oldest backup methods and largely used by enterprises. While backup tapes can store a massive amount of data, it can take several hours to back up one server to a tape and larger backups can take days (and if it takes that long to back up, think about how long it is going to take to recover that data). And these tapes can be easily lost, misplaced or even stolen.
Another option for backing up your business data is disc-based backups. Disc-based backup systems enable faster recovery than backup tapes, but they can also be expensive because you will need several sets of drives to implement this strategy.
And an on-site disc system takes up a lot of space and energy. Disc backup systems are constantly running and overheating, meaning you’ll have to factor cooling systems into your IT costs.
Cloud backup services
Does your small business lack the workforce or resources to maintain a backup on-site? Don’t worry; you’re not out of options yet. Cloud-based backup services are a popular alternative to storing data on a hard drive.
By backing up your files in the cloud, you can automate backup and recovery processes and achieve end-to-end business continuity. And implementing cloud backup services is quick and painless. Many providers will even take the job off of your hands and run your backups for you.
4) Implement your backup solution of choice
Many businesses create a well-thought-out, comprehensive backup plan, only to never follow through. Don’t let this happen to you. Keep in mind that a strong backup plan is essential to ensuring your data is secure and easily recoverable. That’s why it’s so important to invest in its implementation and make sure you’re covering all bases.
Implementing a backup strategy doesn’t just take time and effort; it also requires certain skills and technological know-how. If you don’t have the time to gain the expertise yourself, or the money to hire in-house experts, reach out to a third-party expert. They can help you implement an effective backup strategy and maximize data protection.
5) Test, test, and test again
Once you implement your backup plan, test it to make sure it works. If there’s a serious flaw in your plan, you want to discover it before data loss and not after. Regularly testing your backup systems helps you identify any potential issues and also trains your staff in backup procedures.
Test your backup system immediately to make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Once that’s done, get into the habit of routinely testing your backup system to check that the setup is still functional. Simulate every potential scenario, from losing all data to accidentally deleting a single file, and make sure you can recover data when you need it most.
Developing a reliable backup plan isn’t easy. It takes time, patience and a serious commitment to data security. But the benefits far outweigh the costs. Think about it: wouldn’t you rather spend time protecting the data you already have than recreating critical business data you lost?
Don’t risk losing your data. Learn how we helped Allies Healthcare significantly improve their data recovery performance, and how you can do the same, by downloading our case study below.