You know how annoying it is when you accidentally close your browser window and lose all the tabs you were working from?
The ‘restore tabs’ function in Google Chrome is a game-changer for millions of clumsy people. Rather than having to manually remember, search out, and re-open every tab, we can just go into the tab restoration menu and hey presto! All restored at the click of a button.
Then there’s the blessing that is that ‘Restore Pages’ box that pops up when you’re getting back online after an outage or crash. What did we do before this was an option?
Chrome is able to provide these services because it’s continually backing up your browsing data. When there’s a problem, it uses backed-up data to return you to the point you were at before things went wrong.
You can also back up your business data. And you should.
The word ‘data’ sounds very modern. But it’s just a newfangled word for ‘information’. Sure, that information tends to come in digital form, but when you extract and analyse it in the right way, it’s still used in the same way that information always has been.
Information means knowledge, and knowledge means power and success. This is why data is so valuable.
As well as being valuable, data is sensitive. Customer data is particularly sensitive. When customers give you things like their address, date of birth, preferences, and so on, they’re trusting you to prevent that data from falling into the wrong hands. And if you lose that trust, it’s hard to regain it.
Even if you don’t lose customer data to malicious actors, your customers won’t thank you for having to hand over their data again. Nobody wants to fill out more forms than they absolutely have to!
So, if you lose your data, you risk several things:
- Losing the information you need to run your operation – purchase orders, protocols, contact information etc.
- Losing the trust of your customers.
- Losing the trust of governing bodies and industry peers.
Even one of these things can spell disaster for your business – all of them at once could sink you.
That’s why it’s so important to have a data backup strategy.
Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about backing up your data, from why it’s so important to the tools you need to do it.
What is a data backup strategy?
A data backup strategy ensures that your data is safe from events that could compromise your data, such as:
- Power outages
- Tech problems
- Cyber attacks
- Access problems
With a good data backup strategy, your vital data will be protected, preserved, and accessible no matter the circumstances.
Why do you need a data backup strategy?
We’ve spoken above about some of the ways that your data can be lost or compromised. In this age of remote working, a lot of these factors are riskier than ever.
For example, if your workers are all accessing data in the cloud from multiple remote locations, there are multiple ‘entry points’ where things can go wrong. What’s more, the potential for human error rises when people are working unsupervised.
You don’t have to lose the many advantages of remote working to solve this issue. You just need good cybersecurity practices and a decent data backup strategy.
It’s also worth noting that data breaches can bring penalties with them. Most developed nations take data security very seriously. Under regulations like PIPEDA, CCPA, and the GDPR, your company could be fined huge chunks of your profits for not protecting your data well enough.
While a data backup strategy won’t fully protect you from repercussions if your data is stolen, having one in place will show the authorities that you’re doing all you can to keep data safe and secure. This will work in your favour when it comes to deciding on penalties.
Most of all, what a data backup strategy does is ensure that you can get back on track quickly and easily if something goes wrong. It’s a slightly more complicated version of ‘restore tabs’ that means you can get back to what you were doing without any hassle.
How to back up your data effectively
We’ve been through the theory of data backup. Now, it’s time to get into the practicalities. Here’s how you do it:
Use the right tools
When researching your data backup plan, you’ll find that there’s a ton of tech options out there to help you. From RDD to DataFrame PySpark, there’s a lot out there, and it can get complicated!
Our advice is not to worry too much about the finer detail. When strategising, concentrate on your broad needs. The tools and tech that work for you will depend a lot on how your particular business works.
Broadly, you’ll find that there are five main data backup options:
- Removable media
- External hard drive
- Hardware appliances
- Backup software
- Cloud backup
All of these have advantages and disadvantages. For example, removable media and hardware appliances are secure from remote attack, but at the same time, they’re hard for remote employees to access.
It’s worth researching to find out the best fit for your business. Remember—you don’t have to commit to just one. You could have a hybrid combination of hardware and software, cloud solutions and internal solutions.
Appoint a backup administrator
A lot of the backing-up process can be automated – but when you’re working with something as important as data, it’s still worth appointing a human overseer.
Your backup administrator’s duties could include things like:
- Ensuring that the right data is being backed up at the right time
- Checking that backup tools and software are up to date
- Making sure that everyone is up to date on backup measures. For example, by sourcing and organising Apache Kudu training
- Advising on necessary upgrades/changes to the backup system
- Verifying backups
- Maintaining an audit trail for backups
If you’re lucky enough to have a cybersecurity team, it makes sense to choose your backup administrator from among their ranks. Things like labour forecasting will keep you ahead of the game when it comes to having the right cybersecurity staff.
Have an RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and an RTO (Recovery Time Objective)
This is all about risk and loss management.
By setting an RPO, you establish what data (and how much of it) you can afford to lose. You calculate it by how often you backup your data. For example, if you back it up once a day, your RPO is 24 hours.
The lower your RPO, the more at risk your data is. A low RPO also means that backing up will take greater time and resources when you do it (due to higher levels of data). However, a lower RPO for less important data could also save you some bandwidth. So consider it carefully.
To help figure out your ideal RPO for each dataset, think about your RTO. The Recovery Time Objective assesses how much fallout there will be from any data loss. Specifically, it tells you how much time you can afford to lose in any given data outage.
For example, losing login details from your app is likely to have an RTO of seconds, especially if people log into your app frequently. But losing details of logins to your old, redundant website has an RTO of years.
RPO and RTO will help you rank your data, which you can use to set up an efficient backup schedule. Speaking of which…
Set up a schedule
Scheduling is an essential skill for any good business owner.
First, decide which data files need backing up. Rank them in order of importance. This will help you establish an effective schedule. The more important files should be backed up more frequently than the others with a backend service.
Once you’ve scoped and ranked your data, establish a backup schedule. This will not only give you a routine to work to, but it will also set a benchmark by which you can determine when things are sliding.
Use a 3-2-1 backup strategy
The 3-2-1 backup strategy makes sure that your data is duplicated, recoverable, and accessible.
It’s pretty simple; whenever generating data, generate three copies of it. Assign these copies to two different types of storage. Make sure that one copy is kept offsite.
This process can be almost entirely automated. Once you’ve set the system up, you don’t need to worry about it (other than for pulse checks and so on).
You can incorporate a 3-2-1 backup strategy with any combination of hardware, software, scheduling etc. The important thing is that you maintain the structure: multiple copies of data, distributed across different types of storage, with at least one copy kept offsite at all times.
This kind of best-practice protection will help to protect you and your business in the long term.
Protect your business and your customers with a data backup strategy
If you’ve ever been thankful for autosave or for the ‘restore tabs’ function in a browser, you’ll understand the importance of backing up your data.
A good data backup strategy will keep your business running smoothly, no matter what. Your customers deserve that kind of service. So start developing a data backup strategy today!