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Better safe than sorry

Your business needs a data backup strategy, yesterday, says Dale Schembri, product marketing executive at BMIT.

If you run a company that relies upon constant access to its data, the proverbial of being safe rather than sorry ought to be more than a cliché to you. It should be a mantra. There are few things in business as frustrating, or as costly, as losing valuable information.

Not only does one have to deal with the reputational risk that comes with losing data, but there is also the financial cost of having to recover it. These costs and the feeling of frustration are magnified by the knowledge that such an incident could have been avoided had adequate precautions been taken.

Even if you believe your business doesn’t rely on large stacks of data, the principle still applies, because all businesses generate data in some form or another. This data could include major components of your business, such as product information and specifications, design and production plans, or employee and customer information. Losing such data can prove undeniably costly. This also applies to seemingly minor things, such as e-mail, contact lists, and individual folders containing forms and other documentation.

Data losses occur in several ways: There are physical causes including hardware failure and technical issues, such as corrupted files. Then there are more malicious causes like a virus or malware, and research has shown that small and medium-sized businesses make up the majority of targets for cyberattacks. More common than all of these is human error: it is not unheard of that employees have accidentally deleted a file or two. It could happen to anyone and at any time.

Therefore, having a form of contingency for these situations, a backup plan if you will, is vital for business owners who want to avoid having their operations come to a grinding halt.

Thankfully, there are several options, such as creating an internal backup system or outsourcing backup to an IT services provider such as BMIT. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that your plan incorporates specific characteristics.

One of the first things to consider is frequency. How often should you back up data? Generally, the more frequently you back up, the better. If your business neither handles large amounts of data nor relies specifically on that data for its day-to-day operations, then a weekly backup may be sufficient.

However, if you can manage them, daily backups are always recommended. This is a better-safe-than-sorry situation after all. The safest option would be to back up as often as possible so that if worst comes to worst, you’ll only have to make up for a day’s lost work and not an entire week.

Small and medium-sized businesses make up the majority of targets for cyberattacks

Automation is also a critical quality that should be integrated into any backup system. One of the primary factors you’re trying to avoid is data loss caused by human error, such as inadvertently deleting files. Putting the backup system in the hands of a person, therefore, seems counterproductive. With an automated system, there is no risk of someone forgetting to perform the backup due to other tasks. Automating the process provides additional reliability and safety.

It is no good just being safe; your information needs to be secure too. If you keep sensitive data and customer details on your backup, you want to make sure that they are protected.

Adding layers of security is vital. That is where outsourcing your backup to a service provider can go beyond the capabilities of an internal backup system. Backups housed in data centres are protected by high-grade encryption and are far harder to compromise than conventional systems.

The other significant benefit of utilising a backup solution such as those offered by BMIT is access to multiple backup sites. By spreading your backups across several physical centres, in different locations, you mitigate the risk of losing your date due to natural disasters. A company is asking for trouble if it backs up all its data in a single location. Should a disaster strike at that location, the company is back at square one, without data, as if it had never backed it up in the first place. Spread it around, and you give yourself a much better chance of recovering everything when needed.

Frequency comes into play again, but this time in the form of frequent checks that the system is working. It’s not enough just assuming that everything is fine – you have to be sure. Regular inspections of the backup data are needed to ensure that recovery is possible when needed.

Last but not least, you need to consider costs again. Having an effective plan is supposed to help you mitigate the cost of losing your data. By outsourcing your backup operations to a dedicated service provider, you’ll not only receive expert advice, but you’ll also find a more cost-effective solution that offers increased capabilities and security measures that go beyond what most organisations can achieve by setting up their own internal systems.

Act today before it’s too late. Don’t get yourself – and your business – in a frustrating and expensive situation that could have easily been avoided with a suitable backup plan.

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