World Backup Day takes place every year on March 31st as a way to highlight the importance of backing up your data and for people to learn about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups.
What is a data backup?
More and more companies are moving most of their information to digital formats, including financial information, key work files, photos, music, work files and other business critical assets.
A backup is a second copy of all your important files. Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer), you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.
In fact, a survey from Acronis found that 75% store their data digitally, moving away from paper document storage. The same survey found that 50% backup their data only on their computer and nowhere else.
When it comes to storing data, few are looking beyond their current systems or devices. Only a third are protecting their entire computer system, the rest are just protecting some files. And less than half are saving their information to an external device or in the cloud.
Consider what may be lost. Here are some more stats from World Backup Day:
- 30% of people have never backed up
- 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute
- 29% of disasters are caused by accident
- 1 in 10 computers infected with viruses each month
The good news is that 93% of companies who took the survey would be willing to back up their data.
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Why should we backup our data?
Backups are critical for keeping your business up and running when a data disaster strikes.
For example, technology security firm Sophos say that the growing threat of ransomware like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall in the past couple of years has underscored the importance of backups, but it’s not only malware that can destroy your important files.
Without timely and effective backup solutions, businesses risk losing their credibility and even facing legal action if they lose valuable consumer or staff data. If you are responsible for storing information regarding your customers and staff members, your security system needs enhancement to ensure that important data has the best protection.
There are many ways to lose data, from theft or accidental loss of a device to device failures and natural disasters.
What are the most important things to keep in mind when keeping your data safe?
Here are the key points to keep in mind when backing up your company’s data.
1. Backing up on physical devices: Backups should be stored on a different device and in a different location from your master copies. It’s a good idea to have redundancy in case one of your backup devices is destroyed or fails.
2. Backing up in the cloud: If you’re using a cloud service, you need to trust that the provider has adequate protections in place to keep your data secure and private. Make sure you control access with strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
3. Make sure you can recover data easily: Not only is backing up important, but you need to able to restore the data in a suitable amount of time. Your data is important for your business continuity. What happens if everything goes down and you need to restore it? Downtime to restore data could cause significant loss of business and harm your reputation, stock value, etc.
4. Verify Restoration Procedures: You should verify that a restoration procedure works. There’s no point in waiting until the worst happens only to find out that you hadn’t been backing up the right data, or the procedure wasn’t done properly.
5. Encrypt Your Backups: It’s all well and good to have data on your desktops, laptops and servers encrypted – but if your backups are stored in plain text, think of what happens if they get lost or stolen. It’s still a data breach, and you may still be culpable under data protection laws for failing to protect data.
6. Update your data protection policy: Understand what industry and government regulations impact your organisation. Be sure to know which laws apply to you in your region. For example, the upcoming EU Data Protection Regulation requires you to protect data on EU citizens, even if you’re not located in the EU. Determine where this data resides so you can identify the systems you need to monitor.
7. Encourage your team to take backups: User training, guidelines and acceptable use policies are critical to the success of your DLP strategy and should be factored into the project alongside any IT activities.
8. Deploy data protection technologies: Protect against data loss by deploying security solutions such as content control, device control and encryption to render data unreadable without a password.
How do you backup your data?
According to TechTarget, there have been three basic types of backups for quite some time: full, incremental and differential.
1. Full backups: A full backup is exactly what the name implies. It is a full copy of your entire data set. Although full backups arguably provide the best protection, most organisations only use them on a periodic basis because they are time consuming, and often require a large number of tapes or disk.
2. Incremental backup: Because full backups are so time consuming, incremental backups were introduced as a way of decreasing the amount of time that it takes to do a backup. Incremental backups only backup the data that has changed since the previous backup.
3. Differential backups: A differential backup is similar to an incremental backup in that it starts with a full backup, and subsequent backups only contain data that has changed. The difference is that while an incremental backup only includes the data that has changed since the previous backup, a differential backup contains all of the data that has changed since the last full backup.
There are now a few more advanced data backup options:
4. Synthetic full backup: A synthetic full backup is a variation of an incremental backup. What makes a synthetic backup different from an incremental backup is that the backup server actually produces full backups. It does this by combining the existing full backup with the data from the incremental backups. The end result is a full backup that is indistinguishable from a full backup that has been created in the traditional way.
5. Incremental-forever backups: Like an incremental backup, an incremental-forever backup begins by taking a full backup of the data set. What makes an incremental-forever backup different from a normal incremental backup is the availability of data. It automates the restoration process so that you don’t have to figure out which tape sets need to be restored. In essence, the process of restoring the incremental data becomes completely transparent and mimics the process of restoring a full backup.
To make things more complicated, the individual cloud services providers are now offering their own in-built data backup services.
For example, Azure Backup is a simple and cost-effective backup-as-a-service solution that extends tried and trusted tools on premises with rich and powerful tools in the cloud. It delivers protection for customers’ data no matter where it resides – in the enterprise data centre, in remote and branch offices or in the public cloud – while being sensitive to the unique requirements that these scenarios pose.
What backup type is best for you?
As with any backup, it is important to consider which backup type is best suited to your own company’s needs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What does your service-level agreement dictate in regard to recovery time?
- What are the policies regarding storing backup tapes offsite? If backups are shipped offsite, incremental backups are a bad idea because you have to get all the tapes back before you can begin a restoration.
- What types of backups does your backup application support?
Have you backed up your data for World Backup Day?
As you can see, there’s lots of options and things to think about, but it’s important to make sure you choose the best backup type for your organisation’s data. Get in touch with Digital Craftsmen if we can help implement data backups for your company.