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Everything You Need to Know About Data Backup

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Don’t get backed against a wall by cybercriminals. In the face of rising rates of cybercrime, data backup is crucial to keeping your information safe, your team prepared, and your business up and running. If performed correctly, backups act as a much-needed failsafe should your systems fall victim to a disaster.  

Emphasis on “correctly.” 

Dare we ask when your last backup was?  

Whether you’ve already got a disaster recovery system in place or just getting started, the experts at EMPIST have got the rundown on everything you need to know about backing your information up the right way.  

Let’s get into it:  

What is Data Backup? 

Data backup describes the process of copying either your business’s data or your own personal data to a secondary location for safekeeping. Maintaining an updated copy of this sensitive information on an external secure device, server, or cloud ensures that you won’t be left empty-handed after a cyberattack, accident, outage, or even natural disaster threatens to wipe you out.  

This secondary location can be physical (such as a hard drive, thumb drive, or duplicate device) or virtual (taking the form of cloud storage and other internet-enabled software). Many remote data locations come complete with failback or failover systems intended to reroute your backup should the primary remote destination be compromised.  

Regardless of which backup destination you choose, it is essential that it is secure, accessible, and updated on a regular basis. A backup that is incomplete or incompatible with your restore process (more on that later) will be of no use to your team.  

How Do You Backup Your Data? 

According to the experts, there are three primary methodologies of data backup – full, incremental, and differential.

Let’s go over them together.

full backup is the type of data backup that your average everyday user is most likely familiar with. Full backups replicate an entire data set, saving any files, documents, applications, or additional information to your secondary location regardless of previous backups. This is to say that when you fully backup, you are copying everything, all at once, to your desired backup destination (more on that later). The biggest benefit of full data backups is that they make restoring your systems to working order a breeze – it’s all in one place, after all! But, the nature of moving this much data at one time means that not all storage devices are able to handle such a large load of information. 

This, of course, leads us to incremental backups. An incremental backup is almost exactly what it sounds like: backing up your business’s data in smaller, more manageable chunks to make a whole. Performing an incremental data backup requires that you have one full backup already saved, and then each additional backup only changes that data which has changed, not the entire system. Incremental backups are useful, therefore, because they take up significantly less storage space than full backups. However, user beware – incremental backups are not best suited for novice techies using manual devices. Keeping track of which files are copied and which are left behind is much better suited for automated technologies or processes. Without them, your business can easily lose vital information to silly mistakes. 

differential backup, then, is almost a mix between the full and incremental backup models above. Again, a full data backup is made first. Then, upon the next backup, any new changes are saved (as is the case with incremental backups). However, upon the third backup, your system instead saves not only any new changes but any changes made to the original full backup as well. Using this method, restoring your data after a crash or downtime would only require the first full backup and the most recent differential backup, whereas incremental backups (which save a copy of new changes every day) would need to compile many more files. With differential backups in place, then businesses can benefit from the simple restore process of full backups AND the limited storage space of incremental backups. Once again, we only recommend using differential backups with programmatic the right technology to avoid costly mishaps. 

Where to Backup Your Data

Not all data storage devices are the same. Depending on what kind of backup you perform, how often you perform them, and what your restore process looks like, some may be better than others. 

  • Flash Drives – Love them or leave them, USB drives and other removable media are a popular, manual backup method for many users. However, EMPIST wants to stress that we do not recommend flash drives (or, frankly, any other type of manual backups) to businesses of any size. While removable media may be great for small data loads of a “just in case,” they do not offer enough security, storage, or manageability for enterprise-level backups. 
  • Software – Software allows everyday users and businesses alike to adopt a “set it and forget it” attitude towards data backup. Backup software gives administrators the option to select what kind of data they would like backed up as well as how often backups should occur and then schedule them programmatically. It should be noted, however, that some data backup software can be complex. and require keen oversight from either an internal IT staff or Managed Service Provider (MSP)
  • BaaS – Short for Backup-as-a-Service, BaaS is a cloud-based approach to the programmatic software above. Often deployed by an MSP or other expert, BaaS software is an easy-to-install, off-premise storage solution to your data management that frequently comes complete with management and oversight from a professional. BaaS is an advanced, reliable solution to ensuring your business stays up and running in the face of costly downtime and outages. 

The 3-2-1 Method 

The best data backup protocols follow strict best practices to assure the safety of your information. Perhaps the most well-known of these practices is the 3-2-1 rule, which states that every time you back up your team should: 

  • Create three copies of your data 
  • Save these copies on at least two different kinds of media 
  • And keep at least one of these backups offsite.  

This is where the benefits of an automated, managed approach to data backup become clear. Working with an expert team to oversee your backup process ensures that best practices are followed each and every time.  

What About Restores?  

Unfortunately, when it comes to data management, your backup is only as good as your restore. Meaning, what good is a data backup if you can’t dependably return that data to working order?  

Once again, this is where working with an MSP comes in handy. As part of your IT Managed Service solution, the agents and engineers who work on your backups simultaneously ensure that restoring your data to your devices will go smoothly. This set-up should give you and your employees the peace of mind needed to focus on your day-to-day work without fear of losing records in the shuffle.  

Okay, So, How Often Do I Need to Back Up? 

Whether you’re keeping a record of your personal device or ensuring the future of your business, the EMPIST experts recommend backing up at least once a week, if not every 24 hours. For larger businesses, you might even want to up that to every few hours or so, just in case.

If that sounds like a lot – it is! But you don’t have to do it alone.  

Did Someone Call for Backup?  

Through cyberattacks and outages, growth spurts, and lulls, team EMPIST has got your back.  

In addition to a full-service suite of IT Managed Services, EMPIST offers advanced, proactive backup & disaster recovery solutions to protect your business. For over 20 years, we have worked diligently to stay on the cutting edge of efficiency, efficacy, and security in all things business technology. To learn more about our data backup offerings, visit us online here.  

To get started right now, contact us using this form, and our team will get back to you shortly!  

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