5 Most crucial components to include in your data backup strategy

Unless your business is a lemonade stand, your organization relies on data to operate, and losing that data may mean permanently going out of business. This is why more and more businesses in Salt Lake City and across Utah are developing and implementing their own data backup strategies. While these strategies may differ based on the company and their situation, the most effective ones all contain five crucial components.

1. On-site backups

If you’re using on-premises servers and one or more of them turn into high-tech paperweights, then having backups on-site is good practice. You can restore data immediately, or at least at much faster rates than if you used cloud or off-site tape backups most of the time. However, don’t just put all your eggs in one basket, because if an adverse event (such as severe flooding) destroys both your servers and your on-site backups, then you’ll have nothing left. This is why you also need…

2. Off-site backups

In a way, these can be thought of as backups of backups because they’re there in case the on-site backups fail. Off-site backups can be stored in the cloud or in physical media such as tape.

How many on- and off-site backups are implemented in a particular backup strategy will be different from organization to organization. However, the IT industry’s baseline standard is the 3-2-1 backup strategy. It calls for:

  • At least three copies of your data (i.e., the original plus two copies)
  • Backups stored in two different media
  • At least one backup kept off-site

3. Backup schedule and rotation scheme

Not all types of data are created equal. For example, customer account information tends to remain the same, which means that it does not need to be backed up often. On the other hand, GPS coordinates of goods in transit may change in real time, which means that such data needs to be backed up frequently. This is because the data will lose relevance and usefulness the staler it gets.

First in, first out (FIFO) backup rotation scheme

It is standard practice to overwrite stale data to save on backup media such as tapes. Let us say that a tape can hold a day’s worth of backup data. Having ten tapes means having backup data ten days deep. For the eleventh and every subsequent day, the newest data and files are saved on the tape holding the oldest backup. Before being overwritten, old data may be archived.

Grandfather-father-son (GFS) backup rotation scheme

FIFO is efficient, but it is vulnerable to data loss. To illustrate, if a data error is included in your backup for the day, then unless the error is caught beforehand, there is a chance that all subsequent backups will eventually contain the error.

As a safeguard against this potential outcome, you need a rotation scheme that lets you have an old but pristine (i.e., uncompromised) backup. This is what GFS is for. In a GFS scheme, instead of just doing daily FIFO backups, you will also do weekly, monthly, or other FIFO backup cycles. This means that if backups from the shortest cycle are compromised, then you’ll have backups from the longer cycles to fall back on.

4. Backup testing

To ensure the reliability of your backups, they need to be tested regularly. They must be able to restore your data to the point that they allow you to resume critical components of your operations. With that said, the testing does not only check the viability of the backups themselves, but also how quick and effective your IT staff members are in performing data recovery.

Beyond regular testing, you also need to screen your backups for malware infections prior to using them. Using compromised backups is a no-no because doing so may result in further data contamination or loss down the line.

5. Data security controls

Wherever you store your backups, you need to ensure that these remain in pristine condition. This means that backup processes must follow strict protocols. To illustrate, most procedures entail disconnecting servers from the company network and the internet to prevent backups from being tainted with false data or highly infectious malware.

Additionally, you and your third-party backup service provider must utilize security personnel, video surveillance, security checkpoints, and other means of protecting servers and other devices. Furthermore, you need to ensure power availability via uninterruptible power supplies and the like.

Last but not least, if you’re using off-site backups to restore data, you must encrypt it during transit to counter man-in-the-middle attacks.

When it comes to data backup services in Salt Lake City, no one does it better than NetWize. To learn more about our managed backup services request for a free consultation or call us at 801-747-3200 today.


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