Backing up your data is one of the most crucial business continuity measures you can undertake. Backups, however, should be done strategically following an overall backup strategy designed for your organisation whilst following best practices. Understanding these best practices can make sure you do not miss protecting data that is crucial for your business and that you don’t waste precious resources. In this short article, we will be looking at some of the backup solutions best practices around to help you understand what you need to start taking into consideration when thinking about your organisation’s backups.

Design your backup and restore strategy

At its very core, a backup and restore strategy is a risk management exercise. It should balance the activity of backing up data with the efforts and resources required to make it happen. To this end, a basic backup strategy should clearly define the following

  • What data is being backed up
  • Where data is being backed up to
  • The type of backups being done
  • The frequency of the backups
  • How long backups are kept (retention policy)
  • Backup restore testing procedure
  • Backup restore testing frequency
  • A RACI (Responsabile, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) matrix of stakeholders

The more detail and information you include, the clearer it will be for everyone. This can help you avoid missteps in the process. Also, try to make sure that responsibility is shared. The backup solution strategy document you create should be written in such a way that someone who is unfamiliar with the processes can pick it up and action it.

Take a holistic approach

In most modern businesses, data tends to reside in a number of locations from on-premises storage to cloud to 3rd party infrastructures. This makes it very important to take a holistic approach whilst taking the time to understand real-world usage scenarios. Understanding how data and information are processed and used can help you create effective policies to make sure that the data you need to be backed up is actually being backed up. This is especially important for critical data, which we will be discussing next.

Consider critical data

From storage space to IT-department time, backing up data costs money. This makes it important to account for this when choosing backup solutions and equally, to back-up data strategically. From understanding which data is critical to which data gets updated the most frequently, data backups should ultimately reflect how data is used. Some things you might want to consider are

  • Operational data
  • Any government forms such as licences and tax returns
  • Financial data
  • Employee and customer information
  • Contracts

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list as what is critical data tends to change from one company to the next. The important thing is to understand what your business needs to operate, even if this is at a bare minimum. Also, make sure you give special attention to data that, should it go missing, can deal a financial blow to the company.

It is equally important to recognise those laws that can restrict how we store data. One such example is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) which may limit which backup solutions we use, how and where we store, as well as who has access to personal data of employees and customers.

Test

While backing up data is important, it’s equally important to test backups; doing test restores on a well-established scheduled basis to ensure the integrity of the backups as well as the restore procedures. While this might sound like extra work, it is of paramount importance. The last thing you want when running a business is a false sense of security.

It will also allow you to time how long it will take you to get critical processes online after a disaster type event. This is especially important if you have any processes l that are time-sensitive. Make sure you check any contracts and list any obligations you might have signed for. Test this first and always aim to optimise restore times to avoid any further issues when you can least deal with them.

Test results should be documented and any issues or process-improvements raised with the appropriate stakeholders so that remedial action can be taken. This will ensure continuous improvement and more stable procedures for backing up and restoring data.

Following these best practices can help you make sure that the backups you do are effective and fit for purpose. At Tilt Technology, we have deployed backup solutions for a variety of company sizes in different sectors, thanks to the flexibility of NetJapan’s ActiveImage Protector, catering for a wide variety of infrastructures.

ActiveImage Protector has many benefits. From the flexible licence including outright, yearly, or monthly MSP subscriptions to agentless deployment, NetJapan’s ActiveImage Protector can help you adhere to backup and restore best practices with less effort. Other features include

  • Agent or agent-less
  • Live backup tests
  • Fast file restore
  • Backup replication to the cloud
  • Centralised management
  • Ideal for VMWare ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V

If you’re a reseller or IT manager, looking to update your backup solutions, get in touch today.