Backing up your files is key to protecting your business, especially if you have sensitive client data, such as banking or health information. For example, losing access to a patient's medical history right before an urgent surgery may delay the operation and increase health risks for the patient. Besides being costly, data loss may also lead to reputational damage, loss of client trust, and penalties and fines imposed by regulatory bodies.
To prevent these adverse events from happening, follow these data backup best practices.
Prioritize mission-critical data
Your primary concern should be to ascertain what needs to be backed up. Sort business data into categories and prioritize backing up those that are vital to your operations. This not only simplifies the backup process but also helps save time by ensuring you aren't backing up files that'll only take up storage space.
The priority list can also include your operating system and important applications. While not required, having a complete system backup may save you a lot of time and effort if a natural or human-made disaster destroys the primary copies of your mission-critical data.
Follow the 3-2-1 rule
Backups aren't immune to being compromised, so you need to implement measures to hedge against this risk. This is what the 3-2-1 rule is for. It requires that you:
- Have three copies (including the original copy) of your mission-critical data.
This ensures that you'll still have a usable copy in case your other copies are compromised.
- Use at least two distinct storage media, such as cloud storage or physical devices like tape, USB thumb drives, or external hard drives.
Each storage media type has its pros and cons. Cloud storage is more convenient to use because backup syncing can be automated. Being available online, cloud backups are more readily accessible than backups stored in physical media. Lastly, the machines used by cloud service providers are constantly monitored and regularly maintained to ensure near-100% uptime. However, trusting a third party with your sensitive data may not be ideal or even permitted by certain data privacy and security regulations.
Physical storage media, on the other hand, grant you greater control over your backups. But using such media means that you manually create backups and restore data, which can be tedious and time-consuming. Furthermore, physical devices may get stolen, lost, or damaged.
- Store at least one copy off site.
Adverse IT events affecting a particular area are also likely to compromise the backups stored there. Therefore, having backups stored in different places ensures that you'll have at least one copy you can use to restore data.
Related reading: A guide to developing an effective data backup plan
Determine how frequently you must back up your data
The frequency at which you back up data depends on how rapidly it is updated and how recent it must be to remain usable. Some types of information, such as customer addresses, are not changed often, so a monthly backup may be sufficient. Other types of data, such as product delivery tracking information, may change minute by minute and would need to be backed up frequently, if not in real time.
Automate as many backup processes as possible
Use automated tools or have a managed IT services provider handle your backups for you so that you can save your business time and effort. These options make the backup process faster, more consistent, and less worrisome than if you were to manually back up data on your own.
There's no need for your business to fumble with backups, especially if you're not in the IT industry. Let our IT specialists at USWired handle backups for you so that you can focus on running your business. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with us to learn more.