What will happen if you have a critical failure and lose some, or all, of your business data?
All the invoicing data, Excel spreadsheets, CAD documents, images and more.
Recovering individual documents, such as a Microsoft Word file, when your PC crashes is much easier than it used to be, with the advent of functions such as Autorecover. Other software applications have similar functionality, such as Autosave within Photoshop. But these won’t recover large numbers of documents in the event of, for example an office fire or backup failure.
Let’s briefly review why having a secure backup solution is needed, then look at your backup options.
The necessity of effective backup
Recent research by Beaming suggests that over 4 million of the UK’s 5.5 million businesses risk losing critical data through poor backup provision. With data suggesting that 70% of small businesses, which experience a major data loss, go out of business within 12 months. You shouldn’t need any additional reasons, but let’s throw in two more…
Microsoft Office 365 is not backed up in any way. If, like over 120 million businesses around the world, you use Office 365 for your day to day computing needs, you need to protect the information you have and the data/documents you have created. Whilst Autorecover will help you restore a document you were working on, it cannot restore something that was deleted, whether deliberately or accidentally, from your account.
Insurance companies expect you to have cloud backups, for all cyber-security policies and for many business policies, dependent upon the cover selected, of course.
Business backup options
Let’s look at basic back up option and the more sophisticated options available plus their pros and cons.
- External hard drives
Normally used by single person businesses to provide a backup solution. This is a really basic solution and something we never recommend as a complete solution.
- Hard drives are a physical device and can fail, leaving you with no way of recovering the data
- As hard drives get smaller and smaller, they are easy to lose
- They aren’t always connected to your devices, so you have to remember to manually backup each time
- They are often kept in the same location as the device they are backing up. If that device is stolen, lost, burnt or broken, so is the hard drive.
A hard drive does mean you can instantly restore, but the downsides to this option make it a bad idea. With solution providers such as VEEAM providing SME backup solutions for as little as £25 per month, it makes sense to use more than just a hard drive.
- On-premise Solutions
As businesses grow and develop an on-premise server network, the obvious solution is to have an on-premise back-up solution, usually based around network attached storage (NAS) devices. Solutions such as Microsoft System Center will provide everything you need to build an on-premise solution. There are, of course, pros and cons to this as well…
Recovery times can be quicker than using a cloud solution when a document is identified as missing or corrupted, but it depends on when the last back up was taken. We recommend that multiple retentions take place each day to maximise the opportunity to restore the right information.
Some on-premise solutions provide you with the option, in the event of a major failure, to build a cloud-based server, with your data, but you have to budget accordingly if you want this level of failover capability.
Having your backup, either the actual data or the ability to restore, in the same location as the original versions is rarely a good option. What happens if:
- There is a fire in your office?
- There is an incident that means you are unable to get into your office to work?
- There is a burglary?
If you are still taking hard drives (or even tapes) off-site each day to mitigate this risk, they can still be lost or stolen. Don’t forget that taking these off-site is highly likely to breach your GDPR commitments.
- Cloud-based backup
Backing up your data to a cloud provider delivers far more benefits than issues.
Although you are highly likely to be paying on a per Gb basis for this solution and that may add up to a higher cost than an on-premise solution, the benefits, and convenience, outweigh the costs…
- Never having to worry about upgrading/replacing storage hardware
- Being able to keep multiple copies of your data for prolonged periods of time
- Knowing the data is being replicated to further protect your business
- Having the ability to restore that data to wherever you need it to be
- Knowing the security around it is far higher than your budgets would normally allow
- Never having to remember to back up.
All the major players provide a cloud solution, from Microsoft Azure to Veeam, so there is plenty to choose from. Whatever solution you choose, there is one thing you need to do on a regular basis to ensure your business really is protected: check your backups. An absolute worst-case scenario would be you get to a situation where you need to restore data, only to find that it isn’t there. Most cloud providers provide you with regular reports on the success, or otherwise, of your backup and may give you reports on a more granular level, showing what machines are missing and how much data.
Your internet connection
Getting your data into the cloud regularly throughout the day will use a fair amount of your available bandwidth. If you are still relying on ADSL connections, your backup is going to take a very long time. Even the incremental backups (taken after a main data upload) will take time. For this reason, we recommend you invest in, at least, a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) solution. The faster data speeds, both up and down, will mean your backups can occur when you need them and they won’t slow down other uses of that connection in the meantime. If FTTC isn’t available in your area (although >90% of UK premises are now covered), you may have to look at fewer data sets. One backup a day, scheduled overnight is an option, but not recommended.
You’ll need to judge the level of investment to be made in the backup solution for your business. As outlined a range of options is available to you. Make sure you have something in place so your business can safely backup and restore data if problems occur.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Ianiri is from Redsquid, one of the UK’s leading independent providers of business Voice, Data, ICT, Cyber Security and IoT Solutions. Redsquid is not tied to a single supplier but rather helps clients boost productivity, reduce costs, and protect and grow their business by creating bespoke solutions from the best technology available in the marketplace.