Backing up is critical, especially since data loss or data theft can happen to anybody, at any time. Data loss can totally disrupt your business operation, and that can cost you a lot: time, effort, expenses for data recovery and technology, and there’s no guarantee of success. Sometimes data can’t be recovered.
The causes of data loss can be many, from very simple and human errors, like spilling coffee on a computer, to sophisticated criminal plans to breach your system. No matter the cause, accidental or deliberate actions, having your data properly backed up can make a huge difference.
A reliable and updated backup ensures the continuity of your operation. Having it, you can just ignore the abusive ransoms criminals demand and restart. Not having it, your business can be in a coma state for some or a long time.
To back up is a major action, and it must be strategically planned. Consider that not only in motion data can be lost or corrupted, but also stored data.
Check out these seven common backup mistakes you must avoid!
1. Not backing up off-site data
Technological development and the current pandemic have totally boosted the practice of home-office. The traditional concept of the workplace has been transformed forever. People can work anywhere using a portable device, and a connection to the Internet.
There are many advantages to this, but there are risks involved too. Those devices can be easily lost or stolen, and important data from your business with them. They also could be the “doors” cybercriminals look for to plan intrusions on your system.
To not back them up constantly – just like you would do with your on-premise computers – is a big mistake. To not protect them against unauthorized access attempts, or to not install the necessary software to remotely block them or track them in case something goes wrong are extra mistakes you should avoid.
Current backup solutions allow you to include such devices for making regular copies, no matter their location. Don’t forget to include them in your backup strategy!
2. Not checking if the backup is correct and complete
An incomplete backup won’t help you retrieve data. Many solutions offer automated choices to program backups to happen. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check everything is made correctly. To assume the copy is made and therefore must be completeand work well without checking, is a naive mistake.
Different issues can intervene for copies to be incomplete:
- The system goes live without being included in the backup process.
- Data can be omitted due to a software error, or a specific human configuration.
- Failures can occur during the backup. If you don’t monitor the process, you won’t realize something went wrong, and you won’t fix it.
- Not following the correct procedure when closing documents software or applications can leave them out of the backup process.
- Errors while entering commands.
- Permission issues, and access to information.
- Backup media without sufficient capacity, lost or corrupted.
To take the backup process as a simple routine, and to take its accuracy for granted are mistakes you should avoid. Test your backup solution, monitor the process, check that copies are correct and complete. You should also test your backups, especially copies of particularly important data, to verify they work correctly, and to detect possible file corruption in time.
3. Backing up only on physical devices
Physical devices are tangible and trustable. Besides, due to cyber-attacks, many people choose to store their copies on physical devices, like hard drives, to avoid network connection issues and cyber risks.
Those reasons are valid, but let’s not forget that hardware also involves risks. Human errors can damage it, and natural disasters can totally devastate it. Think about lack of adequate maintenance, overheating, breaking, thefts, fires, lightning storms, earthquakes, or floods.
Usually, backup strategies recommend including at least one backup copy on a physical device -but to not totally depend on this. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a mistake you want to avoid!
4. Not backing up on a regular basis
To make backups randomly, without defining a convenient frequency based on how much data your business produces or constantly modifies is a risky mistake.
You can back up monthly, weekly, daily – some solutions even run a backup every 15 minutes. The ideal time is different for every business. Consider that in case of a failure or a cyberattack, all the data created after the last backup, and until the event’s moment will be gone. If your last backup was made two months ago, and your company generates lots of new essential data daily, you can calculate the big data loss you will suffer. That backup copy will not be helpful to re-start your business.
On the other hand, if your business’ data changes or grows significantly every week, there’s not much sense executing a backup every 15 minutes. This can cause interruptions to your operation, it can take a lot of resources, like bandwidth, computing power, storage space, just to have a many copies with zero or a very few changes between them.
Defining the frequency for a backup will determine the maximum period your business can lose data without struggling to operate. Shorter time spans between every backup means less data loss, but higher demand for resources. Longer time spans between backups will save you resources, but it will increase your chance of data loss.
5. Mistaking sync with backup
Sync and backup are not the same. Backing up is to copy data from one location to a different one. Syncing involves two actions: copying or erasing data to make sure two different locations have exactly the same set of data.
Syncing has the advantage of being quicker because only the files that get modifications will be copied. This reduces the time spent on making the copy but it involves the risk of data loss. If you erase files on your system, they will be erased from the copy (external hard drive, cloud, etc.) too.
Backing up gives you the chance to restore files you erased on your system using the copy. Syncing doesn’t. Files will be erased in both your system and the backup destination.
Currently, some tools for syncing warn you every time a file is erased, and you must confirm its deletion from the copy or its restoration to the system. But still, it’s better to keep away from syncing as a solution – things can go wrong.
6. Not testing restore time
A backup allows restoring your data in case it’s needed for your business to not suffer downtime. To back up consistently, and to store your copies properly is the first good step. But if you never try to restore such backups, you won’t have an idea of the exact amount of time that they take to be restored.
Set your mind to the worst scenario, your business suffered an attack and it’s down. What you need is to get back up as soon as possible because downtime means money loss and reputation damage. How can you plan or execute a strategy if you don’t know when exactly you will be back on track?
Also, while restoring your data as a test, it allows you to detect potential issues and fix them before it’s needed . Simply, if it takes too long to restore and that time doesn’t suit your needs, this could be the perfect time to switch to a different backup solution.
7. Not having a plan to back up
Not having a clear plan to back up turns out to be the reason for many mistakes. If you don’t create a plan that calculates all the possible inconveniences and alternatives… you may be forced to improvise or execute a substandard idea in a hurry.
Remember that there’s no standard plan that suits everybody. An efficient backup plan is the one that better suits the specific needs of every business. To start, answer these questions:
- Which data will you back up? Know the types of data your business generates to determine priorities: Configurations, databases, files, applications, operating systems, virtual machines, mobile devices, you name it!
- Which backup solution will you pick? There are different solutions and combinations of each to choose from. Some already include software to protect your stored data, but not all.
- How frequently will you back up? Time in between every backup means to lose less or more data in the case of an event. But it also involves needing less or more resources.
- Do you have storage enough? Based on the amount of data you back up, the solution you pick, and the backup frequency, you will need storage for your copies.
- Who will be in charge to run, monitor, and test the backups? Solutions are efficient but they can fail due to several factors.
- At what time will you back up? Large data amounts being moved across your network can cause issues, especially during peak hours. They can take a lot of bandwidth, interrupt your employees’ productivity while affecting phone calls (VoIP), virtual meetings, data transfers, etc. Nights or non-working days are an option , but it’s up to your business.
- How will you organize all data (copies)? To search specific files or data in a bunch of copies without organization will be as hard as looking for a needle in a haystack!
A backup is essential for recovering data to operate, for analysis, and even for compliance. Mistakes in this process can totally affect your business, especially when you discover them too late.
Make a backup plan or review your current strategy today! Knowing what not to do (common mistakes) can be a good starting point!
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