One of the most important tasks a business can do is to back up its data. It’s really a matter of when you will lose important data, not if, and if it’s not backed up there is a good chance it will be gone forever. In an effort to avoid this, it is worth taking your data backup seriously. To help, we have come up with a list of eight data backup tips.
1. Pick the backup solution that works best for your business
When it comes to backing up the data on your company’s computers and systems, most companies consider five main options:
Internal hard drives – You can either use another hard drive installed in your computer or partition an existing hard drive so that it functions as a separate drive on which you back your data up. This is a quick option, however should your computer or the hard drive fail – two of the most common computer failures – then you will lose this data.
External hard drives – These drives are essentially separate hard drives that you connect to your computer via a USB or other connection. Many of these drives allow for one touch backup and can be configured to back up data at certain times. While these can be useful, especially if you want to keep data backups easily accessible, they are prone to the same potential failure as internal drives.
Removable drives or media – For example, USB flash drives, DVDs, etc. These are great for backing up work you are doing at the moment or for transferring small files from one machine to another. These options are limited by smaller storage sizes however, so backing up even one computer will likely require multiple disks or drives.
Cloud-based backup – This is the act of backing up your files to a backup provider over the Internet. Your files are stored off-site and can be restored as long as you have an Internet connection. For many businesses, this has become the main form of backup employed, largely due to cost and convenience – files can be backed up in the background. The biggest downside of this backup option however is that you do need an Internet connection for it to work and you will see more bandwidth being used, which could result in slower overall Internet speeds when files are being backed up.
NAS – Network Attached Storage, is a physical device that has slots for multiple hard drives. You connect this to your network and the storage space on the hard drives is pooled together and delivered to users. This solution is like a mix of cloud-based and external backup, only the device is usually in your office. While it is a good backup solution, it can get expensive, especially if you have a large number of systems to back up.
There are a wide variety of backup solutions available, so it is a good idea to sit down and figure out which are best for your business. The vast majority of companies integrate multiple solutions in order to maximize the effectiveness of their backups and spread the risk of losing data around a bit.
2. Split your backup locations
Despite all of the backup options available, you can narrow these down to two categories, the fact that the backups are kept in two locations:
On-site – Data backup solutions that are kept in your office. This could include internal hard drives, or NAS, and more. The idea here is that the data backup is kept in your office. Some like USB drives may leave the office, but the main idea is that they are used primarily in the office.
Off-site – Data backup solutions are stored off-site, or out of the office. The best example of this is cloud-based backup where your data is stored in a data center, most likely in another city. Another example is backing up to hard drives and storing them in a secure location outside of the office.
In order to ensure that your data backups are available should you need them you could split up the locations where they are kept. Should you keep all of your backups on hard drives in the office and there is damage to the premises, you could see your data disappear. One of the most effective strategies is to have one set of backups on-site, and another off-site which will ensure that should there be a disaster in one location, the other will likely be safe and you will still be able to access your data.
3. Establish a standard naming and filing system
Have you ever seen how people organize their hard drives? Some like to use folders and subfolders that are organized neatly, while others tend to throw files into one general folder. The same can be said for they way files are named – there’s just so many differences.
Because of these differences, it can be difficult to back up and recover files properly. We recommend that you pick a naming and file system that every file and folder will follow across all systems. This means backups will be quicker, you will be able to see what is new, and you will spend less time organizing files.
Beyond this, an efficient naming and organization structure goes a long way toward making it easier to find files and recover them should your systems go down.
4. Determine which files need to be preserved
While it may be tempting to back up every file and folder up, in an effort to maximize efficiency of your solution, it is better to not back everything up. We aren’t saying don’t back anything up, but you should take time to identify what files and folders are to be backed up. For example, screenshots that have been uploaded to the Web may not need to be kept.
The same can be said for non-work related files. While these may be important to your personal life, they likely aren’t to the business so should not be backed up onto your business backups.
Look at each file and folder and see if it has something to do with business decisions, or is in anyway tied to your business. If it is then it is probably a good idea to keep it.
Stay tuned for the next four tips coming soon. If you would like to learn more about data backups in the mean time however, please contact us today.