Any backup is a good backup, right? Wrong. When getting data back is the difference between staying in business or never recovering, the quality and suitability of your backup regime has to be unimpeachable.
The unfortunate reality is that all backups are not made equal. Avoid these six bad habits to be sure that if something goes wrong, your data isn’t just backed up, but also recoverable.
1. No Recovery Time Objective
Knowing how long you can operate without your data and/or systems is crucial in order to inform your choice of backup method. When every second counts – as it does for a share trader – a system that takes hours to recover will literally cost you money every minute it is offline. However, it might be perfect for a landscaping business.
This timeframe is the ‘Recovery Time Objective’. Before choosing or paying for a backup system, know that figure exactly. Typically, establishing the RTO is part of a business continuity plan which determines the appropriate data protection method for your business.
2. No regular data restore schedule
Backup is one thing, restore quite another. When was the last time you tested your company’s ability to recover data? Systematically testing the restore (and the integrity of restored data) every bit as important as the backup itself.
If restore testing is difficult or absent, the backup isn’t good enough. Your company is arguably at just as great a risk as if a backup wasn’t done at all.
3. Data on remote and mobile devices isn’t backed up
Many companies have a remote workforce accessing data from different mobile devices. Are these devices part of the backup regime? If not, you’re at risk of losing information on the sorts of devices which, owing to their mobility, are most likely to be lost, broken or stolen. That’s a big hole in your backup plans which could seriously hamper business continuity.
4. Failure to identify key operational devices
Some roles are pivotal to keep the business running, particularly at certain periods: for example, the payroll officer at month-end. Whilst the data may be backed up on the server, what happens if that person’s device is unusable on payday?
Backup isn’t just about the data; it is also about the devices people need to use. Your backup plans should include alternative devices which will ensure business continuity for key people.
5. All backups are stored in one place (the office)
This is a bad habit that a lot of businesses are guilty of: there is a backup, or even several of them, but they are all in one location: the office. If access to the office isn’t possible, for the backup is essentially useless. Even if it is something as simple as being locked out (or dramatic and permanent as a devastating fire).
A sound business continuity and disaster recovery plan includes provisions for working from different or multiple locations (even if that means working from home) so crucial functions like invoicing and payroll can go ahead, even in unusual circumstances.
6. Inadequate backup schedules
Data changes constantly and that’s why backups have to be made at routine intervals. For some, that interval is every night. For others, by the hour. For some businesses, however, the interval is ‘whenever the guy in charge of IT remembers to do it’.
These days, it’s highly advisable and also quite possible to have automated backups which take place at intervals as short as 15 minutes. Just think about what it would mean to lose just 15 minutes of everyone’s work – and that should provide the necessary insight into whether or not this interval is best for your business.
Unfortunately, however, too many companies don’t have a backup schedule which reflects the value or pace of work done. This opens up a dangerous gap which can have unpleasant consequences should things go wrong; nobody likes re-doing work, even if it is only a few hours or minutes of it.
Having the right data backup system depends on more than ‘doing a backup’. Even with a backup in place, your business could still be at considerable risk. By taking cognisance of these 6 bad backup practices, avoid being crippled in the event of the unexpected.