Written by Kenneth McNeill, Senior NOC & Automation Engineer at Conosco
Loss of business-critical data can have a serious impact on employee productivity, customer experience, day-to-day operations and even revenue. That’s why data backup is so important for your business.
Backing up data is the process of creating a copy of your data or systems and storing it elsewhere (preferably at an offsite location) so it may be used to restore the data in case it is lost or corrupted. Human error is inevitable, but if a file is accidentally deleted, it’s comforting to know that it can be recovered from a backup. Depending on the type of recovery plan, entire computer systems can be restored effortlessly.
As the IT world evolves, so does the type of devices and data needing to be backed up. We are able to backup end-user computers, file servers and other physical servers as well as cloud services like Office 365, G-Suite and mobile devices.
In this blog, we share the top 10 reasons why data backup is so important and the challenges businesses face to ensure their information can always be recovered.
What are the top 10 reasons why data backup is so important?
1. Prevent data loss
Perhaps the single most important reason for backing-up data is to prevent it from getting lost. Errors and system failures are not uncommon, in fact, 68% have reported losing data due to accidental deletion or hardware/software failure. Having a backup ensures you always have a plan B.
2. Competitive advantage
Should a disaster occur, your business will need to get systems online and operations running again as quickly as possible. Many businesses fail to back-up their data allowing better-prepared competitors to take advantage of their misfortune and essentially win new business that may have been heading their way.
3. Reduce downtime
Any IT downtime can have a negative impact on a business. If something goes wrong you will need to remediate it as quickly as possible, that’s why data backup is so important. According to a report by Acronis, 42% of companies have experienced a data loss resulting in downtime. By having a data backup you reduce the amount of time wasted trying to find missing data, keeping downtime to a minimum.
4. Essential to your disaster recovery plan
An effective disaster recovery plan will provide your business with a set of policies, tools and procedures to follow to protect your organisation and ensure business continuity. Data backup is an important component of your disaster recovery enabling your business to get back to critical operations and avoid disruption.
Data backups form part of a business’s history enabling them to develop archives over time. Depending on the type of business, you may be required to keep records for many years. This is usually the case in the finance, legal, government and healthcare sectors.
6. Quick recovery
People make mistakes, and fairly often too, although seldomly deliberate. Emails containing viruses are opened or malicious links are clicked. There are many ways to infect a network, but with up-to-date backups, your business can rest assured that all is not lost. A simple restore from a snapshot taken before the virus happened can revert a major incident.
7. Avoid extra work
Silly errors or oversights can cost a business dearly, with 41% of organisations losing productivity and money due to data inaccessibility. If you have backups you can swiftly recover information. If you don’t it may mean duplicating your workload, retyping entire documents and often missing things that were once included.
Data backup is important to governing bodies. Tax authorities and regulators often carry out audits for various reasons. By having a data backup you can guarantee that any financial, accounting or other regulatory information will be available.
9. Annual Reporting
Smart business decisions are made off the back of data-driven insights. By storing backups of information you have a point of reference to draw comparisons and produce reports.
10. Peace of Mind
The final reason why data backup is important is simple – peace of mind. No more sleepless nights worrying what would happen if all that precious data got lost.
The main thing that makes data backup important is disaster recovery (and business continuity). From a deleted business file to a company-wide ransomware infection that encrypts all files, having a data backup solution in place and managed allows for the faster recovery of information and assets. It enables you to restore deleted files and rebuild critical servers in a fraction of the time it would take to start from scratch.
Hylton Stewart, Head of Security at Conosco
What are the consequences of not having your data backed up?
No matter the type of business or the size, data loss can have potentially devastating effects. From reputational damage to downtime and lack of productivity, data privacy and compliance issues to loss of customer trust and loyalty – not having a backup could have long-lasting effects on business operations and integrity.
There several factors that drastically increase the chance of data becoming compromised, stolen, deleted or lost including:
- Cyber attacks such as Ransomware and Phishing
- Human negligence
- Human error
- Failure to backup systems regularly
- Disgruntled employees
- Natural disasters
- Hardware failure
- Software corruption
What challenges do businesses face when trying to backup information?
1) Have you got a reliable data backup storage system?
Is the type of storage/media you use for data backup reliable? How sure are you that the data is not corrupt? Older backup systems such as tape drives are extremely vulnerable if exposed to fingerprints, or if they get too close to magnetised areas, leading to data becoming unusable. The unfortunate result is you will not know the data is useless until you need to restore it.
2) Where should you store data backups?
Another challenge is where to store the backups. It’s one thing to have the data offsite, it’s another thing to have a disaster recovery plan that will get you up and running in the quickest possible time. Having a copy close by aids in a quick recovery, but having an offsite copy can be invaluable in the event of a disaster. Many businesses turn to cloud-based storage systems as opposed to physical locations as it guarantees accessibility from anywhere.
3) Have you got enough capacity to store your backups?
Another challenge is data retention. How long can the backups be kept with the chosen solution? Not all companies have embraced the cloud, and the majority of businesses who use older, on-premise technologies face the problem of storage capacity, therefore it’s important to rotate the backup data often.
How can Conosco overcome these challenges? What steps do we take with customers?
Conosco makes use of some of the latest technologies out there to ensure our clients’ data is secure. We store data onsite (for quicker recovery) and have an extra two copies offsite as a failsafe. We also make use of cloud technologies and secure our clients’ cloud apps (such as G-suite, O365 mailboxes, SharePoint Sites and Teams data). As well as taking backups, we also encrypt them with AES-265 bit encryption for an extra layer of security.
In all cases we backup entire systems to make the recovery time shorter. Our backup solutions are capable of doing bare-metal restores onto completely different hardware, as well as restoring single files minutes before accidental deletion.
What are the most popular ways of backing up information?
- USB Thumb Drives
- External Hard Drives
- Network Attached Storage (NAS)
- Time Machine (Apple Mac)
- Cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive)
How can you ensure you’ve backed up everything you need?
1) Perform a data audit
To successfully back up all of your information you must begin by gaining an understanding of what you have and what is critical to your business. By performing an audit you can map out your IT infrastructure and your data estate. Your audit will need to cover:
- How does data enter your business and how regularly?
- What type of data do you hold? e.g. transactional data, structured data, operational data
- How much data do you have?
- What needs does your data serve?
- Where is data currently being stored?
- What departments have access to it?
- How much would it cost to replace it?
2) Prioritise the data you want to back up
Once you have an understanding of all the information you hold, you can then identify which data/files/systems need to be backed-up as a priority. These usually include things like your user accounts which include your documents, pictures, downloads and desktop folders.
Alternatively, many businesses will choose to backup entire systems ensuring they have a failsafe option.
3) Backup your data daily
By understanding your data and identifying the most important parts you then need to ensure that the data is backed up regularly. Although 91 % of businesses back-up their IT components, only 46% backup daily, 28% weekly and 20% monthly. If you don’t back-up regularly it leaves gaps in the data available for recovery. Therefore you must train your staff on why data backup is important.
Data backups are invaluable to your business. They are your plan B should the worst happen and a safety net for human error. Having data backups will save you time and money, give you a competitive edge and guarantee business continuity. Here are the key takeaways from our blog and the reasons why data backup is important:
- Prevent data loss
- Competitive advantage
- Reduce downtime
- Essential to your disaster recovery plan
- Quick recovery
- Avoid extra work
- Annual reporting
- Peace of Mind
With so many backup solutions available it can be hard to choose the correct one for your business. You need to know exactly what data you have and how much storage capacity it will require. If you’re struggling to implement a robust data backup strategy get in touch with our IT Support team.