Everyone runs the risk of irretrievably losing important files and folders if they don’t back up their data. For individuals, losing photos, video files, and documents can lead to frustration, inconvenience, and even bankruptcy.
However, the fear of data loss can be avoided by developing and maintaining a thorough planning strategy. The main purpose of backup planning is to establish timeframes for backing up data, databases or entire systems.
So why do you need backups? And how do you effectively schedule your backups?
Why you need to back up your data
Consider threats to sensitive data, from hardware failures to stolen PCs to ransomware. Data loss can hamper productivity and cripple businesses. Here are the top reasons to maintain backups.
prevent data loss
The most obvious reason for backing up data is to back up important files in case of data loss. Hard drive failures and system crashes are not uncommon.
For individuals, backups are especially important to recover data from a damaged operating system (OS). Some operating systems fail due to improper disk space allocation, software corruption, or multiple app bugs that accumulate over time. Backups allow you to quickly restore specific files or the entire system.
Many small business owners rely on computers to run critical operations like human resources, finance, and marketing. If such owners don’t back up files containing important information, they risk damaging their business, possibly to the point of shutting doors for good.
Data loss can occur due to human error, physical theft, and even hardware failure due to ransomware attacks. Backups allow you to quickly resume productivity in the event of data loss.
Data breaches affect relationships with stakeholders and reduce trust in the company itself. Customers, employees, shareholders and investors trust that companies hold a lot of data about them. Reliable and secure data backups make people want to work with you.
A solid backup plan means your door stays open to stakeholders that were once part of competing companies that couldn’t survive a disruptive event like a data breach.
Audits, taxes and archives
Entrepreneurs are required to report and reproduce regulatory data for tax purposes. By securing financial and regulatory information, you can present your books to accountants and tax authorities even after data loss.
One of the main reasons for backing up data is to have a secure archive of your important information. Depending on your profession, you may be required to keep records for many years. Keeping accurate records could make you very popular with people in the healthcare, legal, and financial sectors, for example.
Data backup prevents retry of tasks after data loss. Whether you’re rebuilding spreadsheets or rebuilding systems, when data is lost, you’ve got a lot to do again.
While you can repair a dead hard drive to recover data, there is no guarantee that the process will be successful. Remember that in case of massive losses you will have to redo everything and few can survive that.
Tips for maintaining backups
You can avoid losing work hours due to a system failure or other disaster by creating and managing backups. Here’s a list of things you can do to keep your data well-cared for.
You don’t want confidential data like employee data and customer information leaked if your network or cloud provider is hacked.
The most secure cloud storage providers offer some form of encryption to ensure the data leaving your computer is encrypted. That way, even if attackers get access to your data, they can’t decrypt it without your keys.
Schedule frequent backups
Remember that you run the risk of losing data entered or changed since the last backup. By implementing frequent and regular backups, you can avoid losing large amounts of data in the event of a disaster. To make sure you don’t miss backing up your data, consider automating the backup process, especially if you’re using a cloud service.
Update your media
Every backup requires some kind of backup media. For example, disk backups use disks, tape backups use tapes, and cloud backups use disks for caching. Storage media doesn’t last forever, however, so it’s important to have rules that define the life expectancy of your backup tapes and disks.
Disconnect physical backups
This is important for fighting ransomware (though not foolproof). If you back up your data using an external device, you must unplug it after each backup. Because if cyber criminals infect your main system and the external drive is still plugged in, they can encrypt that too, making it completely useless. By storing your data elsewhere, you at least ensure that another copy is safe from a possible ransomware infection.
Organize and label consistently
When backing up data across multiple devices, you want to know which archive came from which hardware. Because of this, it’s important to organize your backups so that you can easily find them whenever you need them. If you work with a team and use free cloud storage providers like Dropbox and Google Drive, it would be best to have a consistent standard for organization and naming across the system.
Backups can fail. Configuration errors can prevent important data from being backed up or even restored. Every minute your data is inaccessible can cost you money, which is a good reason to schedule regular backup tests.
A regular disaster recovery exercise for individuals is to take a backup and reload it into a computer to make sure it works. If you use a third party to store your data, make sure the contract requires the service provider to test the readability of backups.
When is the best time for regular backups?
Backup is not something you do once a year and then forget. For best results, make backup copies consistently and regularly to minimize the amount of data lost between backups. The longer it takes to back up copies, the higher the risk of data loss when restoring.
Backup timeframes depend on what device you’re backing up, whether it’s personal or work, and the time of day to perform backups.
If you use your computer frequently (ie spend more than 10 hours a week on your PC), you should back up your data weekly. Casual PC users (people who spend five hours or less on it) should also restore data at least once a week. However, if you own an ecommerce store, performing daily backups would be ideal.
For businesses, the ideal time to run data is outside of business hours, as this is often the time when the fewest people use data. If you need a larger backup window, around 7:00 PM is a good time to start.
Other ideal time frames for backing up data are times when no other backups are running and when storage and disk usage is at its lowest.
How do you stick to a time-consuming schedule?
Once you have decided on a time, you can choose the best way to perform backups. For example, automation might be an ideal choice when dealing with large and frequent backups.
It is also best to consider which data needs to be backed up and which does not. It might not be a good idea to keep backing up all files all the time. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t back up everything, but you should prioritize backing up important files and frequently changed folders.
Sensitive files such as business contracts, financial data and personal data should be prioritized and secured accordingly. To save time and server space, you can ignore less important data (like screenshots already uploaded to the web).
If you’re working with a large team, your backup strategy should include who is responsible for performing backups. You would also need to designate the people responsible for overseeing the success of the backups.
Back up your data to prevent data loss
Backing up all your data is one of the best ways to avoid data loss. Backups can protect you from accidental or intentional data deletion, hard drive failure, and ransomware attacks.
Backups provide security for sensitive personal and organizational data, providing peace of mind for you and your customers. As a rule of thumb, back up everything you consider important regularly and as soon as possible.
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