IT engineer creating a data backup

It’s a fact. Every business collects and manages data. And your small business likely can’t operate without your data today. When businesses like yours fall victim to a natural disaster, cyberattack, or employee error and data is lost, only those with reliable backup procedures in place will survive.

Sadly, most small businesses do not have such systems in place, putting those businesses at risk. Data backup solutions can not only protect businesses from data loss but also keep them operational when disaster forces temporary relocation. Today’s blog post examines what a proper backup procedure looks like and how small business leaders can put one in place.

What is Data Backup?

In short, data backup is a procedure that creates a copy of a business’s data and computer software applications. These copies can be used to restore lost data after a disaster or other type of business interruption.

Ideally, businesses should back up all their data files and software programs. Good backup procedures also include making copies of files and programs on company cell phones, laptops, and tablets.

Backups can be as simple as files saved to a USB jump drive (by far the least reliable) or as elaborate as file and software copies saved to tapes or disks that are then shipped to remote offsite locations for safe storage. Backup systems can also be copies stored on a cloud-based system (the most versatile and reliable).

How much data a business needs to back up and how often will help to determine which backup solution is best for them.

How Frequently Should Data be Backed Up?

Backup frequency is a critical component, no matter what system is being used. If data is only backed up daily, for example, then a business could lose a day’s worth of data when disaster strikes.

Businesses need to determine their tolerance for data loss. In other words, as a business leader, you will need to determine how many hours of data—if any—you could afford to lose.

That tolerated data loss time period is called the Recovery Point Objective (RPO). This is the point in time to which data can be restored. Every disaster recovery or business continuity plan needs to identify the RPO to determine how frequently the backup system needs to run.

Choosing a Backup System

When considering different corporate data backup services, businesses need to identify how long they could afford to wait for data to be retrieved from a backup system in the event of data loss. This waiting period is called the Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

Essentially, the shorter the RTO, the more expensive the system. However, businesses need to weigh that expense against the cost of paying employees’ wages for the hours or days they would be waiting to resume using systems and data essential to their jobs.

Hardware, Software, Cloud, or Hybrid Backup Systems: Which is Right for Your Business?

Backup systems are available in four main types: hardware appliance, software application, cloud services, and hybrid systems. Of these, the least reliable tend to be hardware appliances that are networked into the business system. While easy to install, hardware appliances do fail, causing businesses permanent data loss.

Because of this risk of failure, when choosing a hardware appliance backup system, it is best also to include a second, offsite data backup as a failsafe.

Software application data backup systems may be the easiest to install but often require their own dedicated server.

Over the past few years, cloud-based backup services have become a more popular option because no server is needed, and data is stored offsite. Many cloud options also enable virtual offices to be used. When a physical workspace has been compromised, employees can log onto the cloud’s virtual office via the Internet and resume working with the necessary systems and files stored there until the physical workspace has been restored. (Perhaps you have already implemented something like this during the recent pandemic situation to allow your employees to work from home.)

cloud backup illustrationCloud systems also offer real-time and continuous backup options that save all changes to the cloud as they are being made. This continuous backup means no data is ever lost. Continuous backup is sometimes more expensive and may not be necessary for all data.

In cases where businesses want to back up the most critical data more frequently than less important data, hybrid backup systems might be the better fit. These employ both software applications and cloud backup systems that can be tailored to the business’ needs and budget. Also, because they can offer different security levels of storage, hybrid systems are particularly beneficial to businesses handling compliance regulated data, such as medical, legal, or other sensitive business documents.

Critical Corporate Data Backup Considerations

While backup systems can store copies of all network systems and data files, different backup systems have different recovery methods. Some will let businesses selectively retrieve only that one deleted file, while others will only allow full system and file restoration. Having to do a full system restore can be particularly inconvenient when only one compromised file needs to be retrieved.

Automated Backups are Best

Backup systems that run automatically are far more reliable than those dependent on an employee to remember to run a program. If the key employee is out sick, on vacation, or just forgets to run the backup, more than just a day’s worth of data could be lost in a disaster.

When disaster strikes and data needs to be retrieved quickly is the worst time to find out a backup system is failing. Selecting a backup system that can provide routine backup verification will give small business owners better peace of mind.

Don’t Forget to Record Your Backup Procedures

Every business needs to have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan that includes a detailed data backup procedure template. Such a document should outline the backup systems being used, how—and how often—those systems are executed, how data can be retrieved when needed, how long that retrieval should take, and who is responsible for overseeing your corporate data backup.

The good news is that disaster recovery and business continuity help is right around the corner when you work with managed services providers like us here at Computer Services Unlimited!

Why Use Professional Managed Service Providers for Data Backup and Recovery?

Let’s get real for a second. Without proper precautions, every business will suffer data loss that can impact its success, whether due to natural disasters, hackers, or employee error. Extended data loss can easily mean bankruptcy for small businesses, which is why having reliable backup procedures in place is critical. As Ben Franklin so wisely said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Because data is crucial to your business’s success, you want to make sure it’s backup is as secure as possible. And this is where a proactive and capable managed services provider (MSP) comes in. MSPs like us can offer a range of customized data backup services that meet your needs and your budget. We also have more expertise to evaluate systems, freeing business owners like you to focus on your business. Imagine that!

Need Data Backup Help in Northern Virginia?

When searching for an MSP to deliver data backup services, business owners need to ask big questions to ensure that they’re working with the right resource. Here at Computer Services Unlimited, we can facilitate continuous backup and rapid data recovery through a variety of enterprise-grade tech solutions.

To learn more about selecting an MSP for data backup services, download our free report, Protect Your Data, today. Or simply contact us to speak with a data backup and disaster recovery expert right here in the DC Metro area and schedule a free, 30-minute network audit.