Data backup is a quintessential building block for creating a solid disaster recovery plan and cybersecurity strategy. Despite its importance, many business owners are struggling with understanding what it is and why it’s important—only 25% of IT managers perform monthly backups.

Let’s break it down to the basics.

What is Data Backup?

To summarize, data backup is the process of archiving and allocating copies of your existing data within secure systems on or off-site. If, for any reason, your data is corrupted or destroyed (such as a breach), you can never restore it under normal circumstances. However, by having data backups in place, your business will suffer no losses and be able to pick up as normal once everything is back online.

But a reliable data backup is not as simple as putting what you need on an extra hard drive. Without understanding how to properly execute a data backup, your disaster recovery plan will be in jeopardy. Here are a few key tips from Veeam Legends on getting started.

Steps to Take Before You Back Up Your Data

1) Plan, Plan, Plan

Do not run in blind—map out everything you need before searching for backup solutions. Depending on your industry or business needs, you will have different backup requirements and SLAs (Service Level Agreements) to abide by. Set aside time to consult with your IT Team or MSP (managed services provider) to get everyone on the same page, otherwise, the backup will not execute properly. This is not an overnight process, but it will only benefit your business data in the end.

By the end of the planning phase, your backup and disaster recovery strategy should be well-documented.

2) Keep Your Systems Clean

Your infrastructure and systems must be in a healthy state before you’re ready for data backups. If your data’s environment is not standardized and consistent, you run the risk of damaging the very data and applications you’re trying to protect. Your IT team should be able to perform the legwork here before anything is moved or altered.

3) Keep it Simple

You now have a clean system and a plan to get your data backups going. But, don’t start the race yet—remember to keep your data backup plan simple.

Your backup solutions should be easy to understand, and everyone should know exactly what their role is. Remember, data backups are part of disaster recovery, an emergency plan created to help your business get back online and out of danger as soon as possible. It’s no use if everyone on board is confused.

Ensure your data backup plan is thorough, accessible, and, if your business is scaling, adjustable. This is your business’s last failsafe in case anything happens. 

Steps to Take When Backing Up Your Data

1) Abide by the 3-2-1-1-0 Rule

The numbers listed in this rule represent a different factor of a thorough data backup strategy.

3: Always have a minimum of three data backups stored.

2: The data backups should be stored across at least two media types.

1: At least one data backup needs to be offsite. This is especially important for businesses in areas where inclement weather is common.

1: One data backup needs to be air-gapped or offline. In other words: the only way anyone can touch this data is if they were to physically access and delete it all. Immutable backups are another option.

0: You should have absolutely no validation errors. You can check by regularly testing your data backups to ensure everything is still present and accessible. This is important because if you need to rely on your data backups at any point, you must be able to fully restore everything there without corruption or error.

2) Securely Store all DR (Disaster Recovery) Documentation

All documented data backup and DR strategies, roles, passwords, and plans must be protected. We recommend keeping them off-site, to ensure they’re unaffected and accessible during an emergency. Without documentation, it doesn’t matter how prepared you believe you are; someone will make a mistake and risk compromising the restoration process.

3) Test, Test, Test

We briefly touched on this in the planning process, but we cannot stress this enough: Your backups and DR plan must be tested regularly. It’s non-negotiable.

Plan, schedule, perform, and document every time your recovery plan and backups are tested. Data backups are useless if you aren’t testing them, regardless of how thorough you were in every step of the process. DR plans are useless if nobody is well-versed in the procedure.

You should be regularly testing:

  • If the backed-up data is accessible
  • Where the backed-up data is restored if necessary
  • If any files or applications become corrupted
  • How your business will cleanly handle a disaster without panic

To reiterate, this is the most critical step of the data backup process. Invest in testing and validating, or risk losing everything.

Bottom Line

Unpredictability is inevitable in life—you can never be too prepared.

Data backup, the key element of an effective disaster recovery plan, is one of the best ways to protect and invest in your business’s future. If you neglect your data on the wrong day, your business will suffer a pitfall of consequences that’s almost impossible to climb out of.

But business owners aren’t expected to master every element of disaster recovery and data backup on their own; you’ll need an expert IT partner. Schedule a FREE consult with Twin Networks to learn more about our robust data backup services.