Data backup

What you need to know about data backup

We live in an era of Big Data. Data is a critical component that businesses use and rely on in both their administrative processes and in the delivery of a product or service. Imagine your server crashed and you didn’t have a backup. How quickly could you recover? How long would it take to re-upload your client information into your system and do you have the resources available to do this? Without digging too deep, it’s likely you’d be in pretty big trouble and recovering from this situation could be costly. There are an abundance of worrying statistics you can find online that quote anything from 50 – 80% of businesses failing after a critical loss of data. The good news is that data loss is completely avoidable. While you can’t entirely prevent disasters from occurring, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your business against a loss of data. This is achieved by implementing a reliable and well-designed data backup solution. Do this, and you’re well on the road to future-proofing your business against eventualities that can happen when you least expect them.

Data backup

Preventing data loss with a reliable data backup

Data loss can occur in many ways. Hardware failure or malfunction comes out at the top of the list of causes of data loss. User error comes a close second, with software corruption, ransomware or virus attacks in third place. Natural disasters complete the list as the fourth most common cause of data loss.

Hardware failure happens, it’s just that simple. Maintaining your computer systems regularly and replacing them before the end of their lifecycle can prevent failures from happening, however failure or malfunction is always a possibility. Training and education is the number one method of preventing user errors, however the nature of working with people means that accidents will always happen. Software corruption can be prevented by ensuring that you regularly update your software and by ensuring that your hardware meets the specifications required to run your software. Natural disasters are the least preventable cause of data loss, thereby highlighting the importance of a reliable data backup solution as a means of protecting your business against these disasters.

The fact is that data is vital and you should put measures in place to protect your data assets. In the same way that you insure a building or an expensive machine, you should ensure your data against every eventuality. A well-implemented data backup is the first the simplest method of protecting your business against data loss. If you think data loss is uncommon, ask the people you know if they’ve ever suffered from data loss. The chances are that almost everyone you know will have experienced data loss of some kind at some point in their life.

What to include in your data backup

Ask yourself: what could I not afford to lose? If you’re a business, your client information, past purchases, CRM system, financial data and any other day-to-day files or data will come out at the top of your list. Exactly what you chose to backup will differ from industry to industry, but the files you rely on most often will be the most important files to backup. It’s best practice to backup all your data, however if this isn’t feasible you’re better off prioritising your most critical files and data and formulating your backup strategy around this. You’re already one step ahead of the game if you’re using a cloud based email client like Google Apps or Office 365 as these applications store your email on the cloud.

Data backup Options

Local data backup

Local data backups come in many shapes and sizes. A local backup is the traditional data backup format and contains your data on tape, external hard drive, USB pen or other storage format. These backups are very secure as they are offline and therefore secure against virus attacks or malicious hacking. However because local backup devices are mechanical they are prone to failure or malfunction. If you are backing up to a local device, it is best practice to remove this device from the premise each day or to perform an additional backup to a separate location. Why? If your premises falls victim to burglary or a natural disaster, your backup is not secure if it is contained within the same premises.

Advantages of local data backup

Secure – local backups are very secure and have been depended on by businesses for decades. Once your data has been transferred, it’s secured against external threats so long as the device remains disconnected from your an internet connected system.

Control – local backups give you complete control over the storage of your data. The data is effectively ‘in safe hands’ so long as you take adequate measures to protect your data against unauthorised access and damage. This means taking extra care if you decide to transport your backup to a separate location.

Simple – local backups are simple to implement and are typically ‘plug and play’, which makes them quick and easy to setup and maintain. Their ease of setup and use places them as the top choice for many organisations.

Disadvantages of local data backup

Cost – if you’re only using small amounts of data, local backups are very inexpensive. When the amount of data you hold rises, these devices can become costly. Compared to cloud backups, local backups are still less expensive in the long run provided that your storage device does not fail.

Flexibility – if you run out of space, you’ll need to buy another drive. Cloud backups offer greater flexibility in terms of the range of storage locations and in terms of the amount of data that can be stored versus a local backup device. Physical backup media can only store up to a certain amount of data, when this limit is reached, it’s time to either delete files or to upgrade.

Disaster recovery – if you’re storing your backup device in the same building as your systems, it is susceptible to the same damage that your building could fall victim to. Removing your backups from your premises comes with it’s own risks, therefore we would recommend using a hybrid backup solution (see below).

Cloud data backup

Cloud solutions are internet-based and store your data to a separate location via the internet. Cloud backup providers essentially ‘rent’ space on their servers which can be used for online storage for backups. Data stored on the cloud is still stored on physical servers, but data is transferred there via the internet i.e. it’s not stored on your own servers. If you’re using DropBox, OneDrive or Google Drive – that’s an example of a cloud backup. Cloud backups are extremely flexible and storage is scalable. Pricing is dependent on the amount of data your store and storage is available from as little as 1GB per month. Security remains the number one concern for businesses, which demonstrates that the cloud still has a way to go in delivering peace of mind to adopters.

Advantages of cloud backup

Scalable – cloud backups are usually charged for by size, therefore when you need more space you can easily upgraded. You’re not limited by the size of a physical storage device. The cloud offers unparalleled scalability versus local backup options, which is why the cloud is a winner for start-ups and new businesses.

Low setup costs – because space is rented and not reliant on complex hardware, cloud backups have virtually non-existent setup costs. Once you’ve ‘rented’ your space, you can start uploading data. There are no costly devices to buy or additional hardware required.

Disadvantages of cloud backup

Internet reliant – Data is transferred via the internet and therefore cloud backups need a reliable connection in order to run. If your internet goes down, you lose access to any data stored on the cloud and you can’t upload anything until you’re back online. If you’re reliant on a cloud-based backup, it’s worth investing in a fast and reliable business internet line.

Security – Due to the use of the internet to transfer data, cloud based services are more susceptible to hacking or attacks compared to their local counterparts. While you’re statistically very unlikely to become a victim, security is still a concern for many businesses because data stored on the cloud is stored ‘out there’ and not within sight. This remains a major barrier to cloud adoption for many businesses, particularly in industries where confidentiality is a major concern.

Can be more expensive in the long term – Cloud backups never give you outright ownership. Space is rented per month or per year, and therefore cloud backups can be more expensive in the long run when compared to the once-off cost of a local backup device. This is particularly true if you are backing up large amounts of data.

Hybrid data backup

A hybrid solution uses a multi-pronged approach to preventing data loss. Rather than relying on a single method of data backup, a hybrid solution seeks to use the best of both worlds by using a mixture of local and cloud storage. As an example, a hybrid solution could use a local device to backup your server, with the device, in turn backed up to the cloud. This approach mitigates the disadvantages of cloud and local backups by combining the two solutions together to produce an altogether more dependable solution. Exactly how a hybrid solution works depends on how it’s been configured, but it seeks to provide further security by lessening reliance on a single solution.

Advantages of a hybrid data backup

Best of both worlds – by combining local and cloud backups together, you get the best of both worlds. You’re not reliant on a single solution, so redundancy is built into your solution.

Superior business continuity – the risks of using a single data backup solution are mitigated through a hybrid approach, therefore you are setup for greater business continuity in the event of a disaster. If one backup fails, you can rely on the other and vice versa.

Disadvantages of a hybrid data backup

More complex to configure – hybrid backup solutions are not as straight forward to configure because they combine multiple aspects together. If you’re considering adopting a cloud-based solution, it’s worth seeking professional advice. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Cost – a hybrid solution can be more expensive in the short term than using a single solution, however the advantages delivered are superior to a single solution using only local or cloud backup. It’s worth investing in a solution that protects the future of your business. The initial costs incurred far outweigh the consequences of an inappropriate solution when data loss occurs.

Where to seek data backup advice

If you aren’t backing up your data, you are significantly more likely to experience greater consequences in the event of data loss. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to secure the future of your business. We work with businesses across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and London. We provide a range of data backup solutions for business and professional organisations. Information security is at the core of every data backup solution we supply. Don’t wait to find out how you could suffer from data loss. Get in touch today.