A computer downloading data after disaster recovery

Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) and How to Protect Your Business9 Min Well Spent

Is your company prepared for a major technology failure? Do you have thorough and well-thought-out steps in place to ensure your business will be able to recover and function as necessary?

If you’re a business owner, you need to be able to answer these critical questions. With the complexity of today’s technology, several incidents can occur that can derail your business:

Server or hardware failure can result in loss of data.

Cyberattacks like ransomware and phishing attacks can take your business offline.

More basic issues, like power failure or equipment damage caused by power grid failures and severe storms, can also wreak havoc.

As a result, now more than ever, today’s businesses need a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution in place. Yet, of businesses that have BDR plans, 23% do not test them

For these reasons, let’s take a closer look at data backup to understand how BDR used to be implemented, how advancements in technology have revolutionized it today, and how your business needs to take advantage of all this.

Table of Contents

What is BDR?

Backup and disaster recovery (BDR) is a diverse set of solutions that ensure a company can continue to operate in the case of a catastrophic event.

BDR includes proactive and reactive measures.

There is no predicting when a catastrophic event will occur, but it is a matter of if not when. While it is not a given that your business will have to withstand a natural disaster, hardware does die. Occasionally that hardware will store critical business information.

In the case of a hardware failure, it helps to be prepared beforehand by backing up that important data to a different source. It also helps to know how to proceed once hardware failure or a natural disaster occurs. The solutions to both are what make up any BDR plan.

Determine Your Budget

Backup solutions come in a variety of shapes and sizes, that also means each solution comes at a range of price points. This is where things get a little tricky. 

You’ll have a budget to stick to, and it may be tempting to cut corners to stay under that budget. However, if your business loses its data and can’t recover it properly, were the savings worth it?

While you won’t make money off your backups, you’ll save money in the long-term investing in a quality solution.

Determining Your BDR Needs

Before you even back up one bit of data, you will have to identify your backup needs. This is your chance to take stock of your organization’s data. 

What data is critical to your organization’s operations? How much of that data will need to be backed up? 

You can’t implement a backup solution without knowing what you’re going to use it for. You’ll also need to plan for the future. You don’t want a backup system that won’t work a few years down the road.

Your company’s industry will play a big part in determining your backup solution. A competitive, growing industry will require a backup solution that can be restored quickly, no matter the size or format. Regulations may dictate what data has priority to ensure client and customer information is secure.

How Much Data Is Being Backed Up?

Chances are if you are backing up your company’s data and information, you feel you could always be backing up more. It only makes sense that you believe every piece of information is critical. 

What is crucial to your business is entirely up to you. 

You’ll have to ask yourself what data and information your staff needs to execute their jobs properly. What pieces of data are irreplaceable? You might not consider contacts critical, but the time it would take to collect the information is time you don’t want to waste.

Traditional tape backup takes complete backups of your data, but it only does so on a limited basis. IT Support Guys’ BDR solution can back up data more frequently. Our appliances update backups when files have been changed, making it a much more convenient and less straining solution for the average small business.

Which Data Are You Backing Up?

Think about your current backups. How much data are you backing up? How much do you want to back up? Ideally, you want to back up as much of your data as possible. 

More likely some data has priority over others. This would include any data you have a legal obligation to back up. No sense in dealing with compliance issues for not correctly handling confidential or sensitive information.

How Often Do You Back up Your Data?

You’ve figured out what data you want to backup. Now you need to determine how often you will perform the backup. 

A backup is only helpful if it is up to date. A backup that is a few days old will do you no good if significant projects have been started or completed. 

You’ll have to make up the time lost restoring a backup that was out-of-date. Taking frequent backups could take more time, but you’ll always have an up-to-date file if needed.

To get a perfect mix of timing and copying relevant data, you’ll want to look into a cloud-based BDR solution. 

synthetic-full backup through the cloud only backs up files that have been changed since the last run. Everything stays up to date without making multiple copies of data or files that haven’t been touched since they were first backed up.

How Fast Can You Restore Data?

When you suffer data loss, you don’t have much time to waste. You’ll need to act immediately to ensure your data is restored and your business is operating with minimal downtime. 

Having a fast recovery solution will make restoring data effortless and keep your staff productive. To do this, you’ll need to make sure your infrastructure is prepared to handle these situations. 

By testing your backup and recovery solutions often, you’ll be able to ensure proper implementation and execution when you need it the most.

Selecting a Platform

Backup solutions have evolved since the days of a simple hard drive or tape backup. While those are still used, more businesses are looking to the cloud for their backup storage needs. Ease of access and hosting options have made the cloud more popular than ever.

Where Are Your Backups Stored?

On-site backups are great, but off-site backups are even better. If a user accidentally deletes a document or a workstation crashes, an on-site backup is available to restore the lost data. For significant recovery efforts, you need something more secure. 

Traditional Data Backup

Data backups have traditionally been physical reels with magnetic tape that stored company data. The reels were kept on-site for easy access in case of an emergency. It made sense to have the data backup on-site to be able to retrieve it as soon as it was needed.

However, tape storage is an inefficient way to back up company data. If you lose your data, it can take hours to restore. In fact, the downtime that can occur while waiting for data restoration can be devastating, with Gartner estimating that downtime can cost companies around $5,600 per minute.

That’s just a limitation of the technology process needed to retrieve data on tapes. If anything were to happen to the physical tapes themselves, your data could be completely lost, with no way to recover it. The same can be said for USB drives and solid-state drives.

Therefore, the most effective backup strategy for businesses is to have multiple backups, on-site and off-site. This is consistent with what’s known as the 3-2-1 backup rule, which should be used as a baseline for all business BDR plans.

3-2-1 backup rule - 3 copies of your data, 2 different media, at least 1 off-site - a key BDR solution

Businesses can still achieve all three aspects of the 3-2-1 rule by using traditional, physical backups. Yet having strictly physical backups can slow the recovery process if an off-site backup is needed, as it will need to be retrieved or shipped from its off-site location.

So, how can a business bridge the gap between a physical and off-site backup?

Cloud-Based Backup and Disaster Recovery

A more ideal solution for your business’s data and backup disaster recovery plan is to set up a cloud-based BDR system. Cloud-based data backup is more secure, more efficient, and more convenient than tape storage.

As mentioned before, cloud backup occurs more frequently through the process of snapshot-based backups, like the synthetic-full backup. A snapshot-based backup occurs when information changed since the last backup was taken. This means you get more backups throughout the day, and can be as often as every 15 minutes.

Having frequent backups means drastically decreasing the potential of large amounts of data being lost. With these backups, your data can be saved both on-site and in the cloud, making access reliable and easy.

Are You Protecting Your Data Backups?

Backing up your data is critical. Keeping it secure is just as important. This is especially true if you keep your backup on-site. 

There are the common threats to your network, like a hacker or virus, and unpredictable events, like natural disasters or equipment malfunctions. Leaving unprotected backups on-site during any of these events could mean your data is lost forever. 

This isn’t to say an on-site backup is a bad idea, having on-site backups is necessary when you need to recover lost information quickly. But having a backup to the backup off-site gives you the extra protection your information needs.

Making Your Recovery Plan

Having a backup means nothing if you can’t recover it when it’s needed. Having a backup recovery plan is just as important as having the backup. 

A recovery plan lets everyone involved know the exact role they play in the recovery process. Every plan needs to include important information, like the prioritization of data and what happens after data restoration.

Test Your Backups

It’s repeated time and time again, but practice makes perfect. That’s why we’re saying it again here: 

Test. Those. Backups.

Frequently testing your data backup and recovery strategy will ensure it works when you need it most. Testing will allow you to work out any inefficiencies, get everyone on the same page, and reassure you that no matter what, your company can bounce back after a data loss event.

Every employee will know their role in data recovery and can make sure that it can be implemented as quickly as possible. You don’t want to find out the procedure doesn’t work at the worst possible moment.

Ultimate Benefit

In sum, the advantage of using cloud-based BDR is that you can restore data to any hardware device. This includes the BDR device itself. Regardless of what may have caused the data loss, you’ll have instant access to the backup the second you need it. And instant access means minimal downtime.

IT Support Guys can help you set up a cloud-based BDR plan. Schedule a call with our Virtual CIO now, or speak with us directly at 855 4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).

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