Backup and Disaster recovery, what do I need to know?
The phone rings
I recognised the number immediately.
Seconds earlier the same company had finally sent me over the signed paperwork so we could begin working together. Something didn’t feel right.
“It’s happened hasn’t it Catherine?” I answered without even saying hello.
“yes” was the inevitable response, followed by a frantic giggle.
Rewind two months, following a network health check we identified this clients IT network was at risk.
One of the disks had failed in their old storage device which they used to backup to. We advised the other disk could fail at any minute.
“don’t worry” I continued, “we’ll just restore from your backup”
“oh dear” I finished with. You see they had backed up, but it had failed and they had never tested it.
On this occasion we got lucky. We managed to recover the data using a specialist data recovery firm R3 Data Recovery. Not all superheroes wear capes.
They nearly lost everything because they didn’t have a working backup and hadn’t fully considered the risk.
This very recent true story inspired me to write a little blog about how a backup and disaster recovery plan can help you to do better business, more securely.
Why do I need a backup?
You’ve read the events above;
What are the consequences of this happening to your business? Have you considered what might happen?
The company in question hadn’t either.
Millions of pounds worth of orders gone, technical drawings, estimates, project plans, accounts information, all gone.
This information is a guide to help you made an informed backup decision, which might prevent this happening to you.
What backup options do I have?
You might start by considering whats important to you and your business.
You should consider the type of business you’re conducting, what type of information do you hold, what information is critical and how quickly you need the information back if the worst happens.
Some business can only last minutes without critical data, some hours, some day and some weeks. What category do you fall in?
Here are some practical ways using solutions we work with daily inside our small and medium sized business clients.
Backup to external USB Device
This is the cheapest and probably most common method of backup
Portable, you should choose this solution if you need to take you data with you.
You can quickly and simply use the device to back up specific files or documents.
Very risky, external hard drives are easy to lose and are a target for thieves. Think of this poor guy who lost £4 million BitCoins https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/27/hard-drive-bitcoin-landfill-site
Unreliable. Often these devices only have one disk and are susceptible to failures.
You’re relying on a human to manually back up. I love humans, but we make mistakes, a lot and the ICO state that human error is to blame for most data breaches.
Cheap: expect to pay around £70 for 2TB data.
Backup to cloud
Dropbox is increasingly common for small/medium business owners. I’ve decided to be specific to Dropbox but whether you choose Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Box, Sugar Sync or any other cloud based storage/backup solution, they’re all pretty similar.
It’s so easy to set up an account and start storing your documents in the cloud.
Free version is great to get you started.
Dropbox have worked hard to ensure that all your devices seamlessly sync to your dropbox account giving you access to your files from anywhere.
Dropbox stores previous versions in the background so you have access to historical documents.
Automatic Sync makes it less likely to lose any files.
Security is good as you’d expect from a company as large as this.
Data control. The minute you upload your data to Dropbox you’ve sent it to an unknown location somewhere in the world. Can you and your business rest at ease knowing your business data is in an unknown location perhaps on the other side of the world?
Data restoration. Can you truly guarantee you can get your data back when you need it? The answer is no. There are no guarantees you can get you data back should Dropbox go offline for any reason.
The costs soon ramp up. As your data storage needs evolve you will need to look at the paid version. For unlimited storage expect to pay Dropbox £18 per month per user. At 7 or 8 users this becomes less cost effective.
Automated Backup Software
Software like Arcserve can backup most things in Windows and Linux. Files, emails, documents, the lot. It can take a mirror image of your server and incrementally backup at an interval chosen by you.
The best part is it’s fully automated.
Disaster Recovery. Software like Arcserve can go along way to providing you with a disaster recovery plan, a requirement under GDPR article 32
Data can be restored very quickly, full servers in minutes in some cases.
Fully automated, once it’s set up it will run in the background.
Reports on the backup and is able to spin up recovery machines from a backup for automated backup test.
Light on resource, The incremental backups mean there is very little load on the network, only syncing the data since the last backup.
Works great with cloud storage too and adds an extra layer of backup.
Easy to send offsite to a disaster recovery location.
Needs technical expertise to install and configure.
More expensive than its counterparts you should expect to pay around £100 per TB to back up.
You can double this cost to replicate it off site, which is recommended.
If you’re unsure which backup suits you best or if you want to know what questions you should be asking then consult with an expert IT company.
See if they can help you make you mind up.
Many IT businesses offer something similar to our network health check. Have a look and see if it would benefit your organisation.
Whichever back up you choose you must remember :-
- Test it. A backup doesn’t really exist until you’ve tried to restore your files from it.
- Work with your IT company and make sure you have a plan to regularly test the backup. Not only is this a fantastic business practice, it will help with GDPR compliance too.
- Ask yourself these two questions; when did I last back up?; when did I last test my backup.
If you’re not immediately sure of the answers then ask for help and guidance.
Thanks for reading