Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Planning for Small Business

When disaster strikes, your data should be the number one priority. It contains financial information, company records, client addresses, credit card details, and much more. Data is the most dynamic element in almost every organization. Over the last 10-15 years, the format your organization uses to store and back up data has undoubtedly shifted, especially with the emergence of cloud backups, redundancy systems, and incremental backups. As more technology emerges in this hybrid environment, it is reasonable to expect that the “paperless office” will become a reality for most organizations.

This year there are an estimated 7.2 million data centers operating worldwide, signifying an exponential increase in cloud storage. As your organization’s data storage requirements grow, you must aim to diversify your data backup capabilities across your IT infrastructure, or risk being unable to carry out business-critical tasks in the event of an outage.

A backup and disaster recovery plan is about more than just preparing for physical disasters: protecting your data has to go one step further. A disaster recovery plan aims to minimize the implications of an outage caused by any vector, ranging from a natural disaster to a cyberattack.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of a data backup and disaster recovery plan, the risks associated with a lack of diversity in your data backup efforts, and some basic best practices.

Understanding the data backup and disaster recovery process

Risks associated with reliance on a single data backup system

Maximizing data availability using backup disaster procedures

Next steps

Understanding the data backup and disaster recovery process

When protecting any kind of data, it is important to identify two fundamentals. A data backup refers to duplicate copies of your data stored in case of a more centralized issue, such as accidental deletion, failed software update or security patch, or the presence of corrupted files.

A backup and disaster recovery plan focuses on the plans and mitigations you put in place should your infrastructure become compromised due to factors beyond your control, such as a power outage or cyberattack. A comprehensive backup and disaster recovery plan takes into account not only your data, but also the software and applications that need to run correctly in order to store the data you own and manage.

Data backup is a key component of a disaster recovery plan, and organizations should use a disaster recovery plan to establish which data needs to be backed up, and what software is required to back it up as fast as possible.

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Risks associated with reliance on a single data backup system

We are living in the middle of a digital transformation, and data has become the most critical part of business operations. In 2021, an overwhelming majority (99+%) of companies store an element of their data in the cloud, and around half of all corporate data is stored in this environment. This migration toward data centers is due in part to the fact that it’s considered safer than storing data onsite only. It also offers immediate scalability for a low cost.

In addition to not investing enough resources in cybersecurity and security awareness training, one of the biggest mistakes organizations are making during this digital transformation is that many are starting to rely exclusively on the cloud. Others are making the same mistake in the opposite direction, investing only in on-premise storage facilities to back up their data. Either way, a “single point of failure” approach carries huge risks.

For example, a carbonite-style (online/cloud-only) data backup is slow to deliver and often proves unreliable when you need to access business-critical data immediately after an outage.

Having only onsite data backups means you have no off-site data protection in the event that your main site suffers from an attack or outage. Similarly, without a locally acquired data backup, the moment your cloud vendor suffers from an outage or a ransomware or malware attack, all of your data may be lost for an extended or indefinite amount of time.

Another significant drawback to a one-dimensional data backup system is that having only one backup location leaves you unable to test the effectiveness of your backup process, meaning there’s no guarantee it will recover all of your data.

Data availability is a key factor to consider. Without a back and disaster recovery plan in place, your key infrastructure may remain unusable for hours or even days.

Data backups come in multiple forms. With an incremental backup, previous versions of data are stored categorically. With full backups, all critical data can be copied and accessed in the event of a disaster. With a differential backup, data gets copied to the same stage as when the last full backup took place.

To maximize data recovery and minimize downtime should your data become compromised, you should aim to identify all types of threats to your data. You can mitigate the negative effects of downtime, attacks, and natural disasters by building a disaster recovery plan to protect all forms of corporate data.

Maximizing data availability using backup disaster procedures

With a disaster recovery plan, you can categorize what data is important, which operations are most critical, and what needs to be fixed first in the event of an outage. Backing up your data is a great first step, but if you are not actively testing backups to see if they are working effectively and prioritizing data based on its critical value, it’s like taking a step backward. When your systems go down in an outage, there will be operations that require immediate access, and operations that will not be needed until you regain full power/accessibility.

A backup and disaster recovery plan combines data backups with an action plan for every part of your IT infrastructure. With the likes of redundancy systems, you can ensure your IT setup gets the right applications up and running first when disaster strikes. As part of your backup and disaster recovery plan, you must consider data availability as well as what datasets matter most when recovering from a service or power outage. By implementing a hybrid approach to data backup and disaster recovery, you can create a more responsive action plan for recovering from outages and loss of service.

Whether you implement data backups in a data center located nearby or in another country, having data split into more than one location enables you to spread your risk and focus on retrieving data and operations that are more important first.

The implications of lost data and service outages are similar, so it is only sensible to invest your time and money in both disaster recovery and data backup. Luckily, cloud providers often combine these two services into one (backup and disaster recovery, or BDR), making the process far easier to execute for when disaster does strike.

Next Steps

When disaster strikes, it is important to expect the unexpected. An action plan is required for any kind of vector that may leave your critical data operations inaccessible or inoperable. To maximize the chances of data recovery during any kind of outage, it is best to invest in a backup and disaster recovery service.

If you’re unsure where to begin, a managed service provider (MSP) can be a great resource. By outsourcing the implementation of your data backup and disaster planning to a high-quality MSP, you can eliminate the uncertainty that comes with building your own backup and disaster recovery plan. An MSP will ensure that your data is backed by the most innovative resources and techniques available, and they’ll bolster your overall cybersecurity posture in the process. A comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery plan is a critical component of an effective IT support plan.

Combining data backup with disaster recovery not only protects your data—it also prioritizes your entire IT setup and gives you the ability to prioritize data availability. This means creating an action plan to recover data and preparations that are business-critical. By focusing on business continuity, loss mitigation, and data availability, backup and disaster recovery planning ensures that you can service clients and perform critical operations as quickly as possible when recovering from a natural disaster, service outage, or cyberattack.