Data drives business success.
Each year, the estimated cost of downtime due to data loss rises ever higher. Not too long ago, a day or so of diminished productivity due to a data loss was manageable. Now, every lost second and minute, every delay and slowdown eats away at a business’s bottom line — sometimes with catastrophic effect.
As HostingTribunal.com pointed out in a piece titled “15+ Scary Data Loss Statistics to Keep in Mind in 2021”:
A Unisphere Research survey cited in a July 2021 Database Trends and Applications article asked data professionals how long they would wait on an ecommerce site before switching to another. Their answer: 7-10 seconds. That’s for data professionals, people who understand better than anyone else the behind-the-scenes work of such a transaction.
Having said all this, it’s still easy to ignore data protection. It’s even easier to assume, when working with an IT provider, that they’ve got it taken care of. That they’ve put in the time and energy it takes to ensure your data is securely guarded, that it’s being backed up frequently and permanently.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your data strategy, chances are you don’t have one.
To properly protect your company’s valuable data, a carefully thought through security strategy is essential. Think of this like an insurance policy, where you can rest assured that your information is safe and your business can function uninterrupted.
The goal of a strategic data protection plan is to protect your systems and the information they contain from damage or destruction by internal or external threats.
Internal threats, as itstillworks.com puts it, may include “poor internal security policies and measures that cause unexpected or unintentional database breaches, or expose weaknesses to external attackers should they breach or circumvent external security measures.”
Think of external threats, on the other hand, as saboteurs; malicious actors who are out to get their hands on any and all valuable information they can. Yours included.
Cybersecurity attacks continue to grow in number and scale.
“Between 2019 and 2020 … attacks rose by 62 percent worldwide, and by 158 percent in North America alone, according to cybersecurity firm SonicWall’s 2021 report,” PBS NewsHour reported in July 2021.
“The FBI received nearly 2,500 ransomware complaints in 2020, up about 20 percent from 2019, according to its annual Internet Crime Report. The collective cost of the … attacks reported to the bureau in 2020 amounted to roughly $29.1 million, up more than 200 percent from just $8.9 million the year before.”
This is to say: There are plenty of malicious actors out there trying to get your company’s data. It’s up to you to properly secure it.
To thwart cyber attacks, or even simple errors made by well-intentioned employees, having your company’s data properly and efficiently backed up is crucial. Backed-up data is recoverable data, and recoverable data means less downtime and less lost work should a cyber attack or data-loss event occur.
As thebalancesmb.com puts it: “There are two steps to successful data backup: Identifying the critical data that needs to be backed up; (and) Implementing backups of the data on a regular schedule. What needs to be in a data backup? All of the files that you’ve created and/or modified should be regularly backed up. For many businesses, this includes everything from accounting files through email.”
Backups, be they to the cloud or to physical hardware, must be functioning effectively in order to work. A good IT provider isn’t just promising to back up your systems, they are testing, retesting and validating their backup methods constantly to ensure that the data you believe to be secure is in fact where it’s supposed to be.
These tests are imperative. There’s no worse time to find out your data backup system failed two months ago, then after incurring a cyber breach. That would mean two months of lost work, lost files and lost sanity.
We can’t say this enough: Test your backups. Better yet, work with an IT provider who will routinely test your backups for you and fix them should they fail.
Backup systems are crucial for preserving and recovering your business’s lost data. There are two main ways that backup systems work: onsite data backups and offsite data backups.
Onsite data backups
As the name implies, onsite backups take place onsite at your business. Onsite data backups are often inexpensive, but they can also be finicky and sometimes unreliable. With onsite backups, important data is periodically saved to a local storage device such as a hard drive, CD, magnetic tape or DVD.
Onsite storage does have some advantages. You have immediate access to your data should your systems fail or become compromised. Onsite backups don’t require an internet connection, making them a fair option for far-flung or out-of-the-way worksites. And, as mentioned, onsite backups are usually cheaper than offsite options.
However, as BackupAssist.com tells us, “onsite storage has one distinct disadvantage over offsite storage. In the event of a catastrophic event, onsite data storage can be destroyed. For example, if there is a fire in the building, or a water main bursts, the onsite servers can lose all the data that has been collected on them. In addition, onsite storage units can also be stolen, resulting in a loss of time, money, and data.”
Offsite data backups
As for offsite storage, often called cloud storage, that’s when data is stored on an external or remote server. This server is most often accessed via an internet connection, though a direct-access connection is also possible.
Offsite backups have some distinct advantages. Data stored remotely can be accessed from any location via the internet or through a FTP server or FTP host. Offsite data will be preserved should a catastrophic event, such as a fire or flood, occur at your business. And offsite data backups can be shared, day to day, with a number of different remote locations, creating a sort of library or clearing house where files can be exchanged quickly and easily among multiple business outlets.
More benefits to offsite/cloud backups
A reliable offsite storage provider will perform its backups at regular intervals, automatically whisking your valuable data to a safe place over a WAN or internet connection.
This type of backup system is extremely reliable. The best offsite storage systems offer redundant drives, meaning multiple copies of your data are safely stored and protected from hardware corruption. Should one cloud server fail or go offline, there are multiple others working behind it to ensure your information is secured and quickly recoverable.
However, offsite/cloud backups aren’t perfect. A company needs to know the exact terms of its offsite storage agreements.
How often is your data being saved, and is the company testing to make sure data is flowing in smoothly?
Is your data encrypted in the cloud?
How much storage do you have, and are you able to store everything you need?
Where is your data being stored? And if that place is vulnerable to natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), then what measures are in place to ensure the redundancy and security of your information?
Perhaps most importantly: How long will it take to restore your backups? Just because your information is securely stored doesn’t mean it’s quickly or easily recoverable. As our partners at Axcient put it: “If you don’t know how long it takes to restore your backups, you’re risking considerable downtime, profit loss, damage to your reputation, and lost clients.”
Downtime kills businesses.
With the cost of downtime continually rising, being able to quickly and efficiently restore lost data is becoming more and more crucial.
“The technology has evolved to where things need to be instantaneous,” Rob Ludeman, director of solutions marketing at Pure Storage said in a July 2021 discussion with dbta.com.
Such instantaneousness and agility requires modern infrastructure. Legacy storage systems, such as some onsite backups, create problems in a modern business environment. Legacy backup systems are those that cannot be scaled, that are prone to disruptions and that are complex to manage, often resulting in high overhead.
“Legacy storage systems also frequently don’t integrate with new orchestration and automation tools,” the dbta.com panelists noted. “This all boils down to the need for organizations and their data professionals to evaluate whether their storage solution is really up to the task of modernization and digital transformation that their leadership has embarked upon.”
A business’s best backup storage plan is one specifically tailored to that business.
This could mean a mix of modern onsite storage and cloud storage. It should mean timed and tested backups that take place continuously and that alert you to any errors. The storage plan and system should be scalable and ready to accommodate your business’s growth.
A properly tailored backup solution means your company’s time flows smoothly and without interruption. It’s your insurance policy and your peace of mind, allowing you to breathe easy knowing your business is in good hands.
Contact us today to discuss your data protection strategy.
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