- Ethical hacker Paul looks at why it’s important to have a copy of important files and the different types of backups available.
Ever written a report and got so close to the end, only for your computer or USB to die on you? It’s probably happened to most of us. Remember how much time and effort it took to rewrite that same report from scratch? Now imagine that time and effort on a corporate scale.
Backing up is the process of creating copies of data held by the company and storing it in a safe manner. This means that in the event of a severe data loss, such as hardware failure, data corruption, or a ransomware attack, it is possible to recover the data from the back up and minimise the impact on the company’s operations.
Types of Backups
There are three main mediums that we can backup our data to, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
The first of which is Tape.
Dating back to the 1960s, it is still in use by some major, well-established businesses such as Sony. It is a slower method of backing up, but the tapes can last for decades, if they are handled and stored properly. Unfortunately, this does mean that they are easy to damage if mishandled. Companies who opt for this method often have a secondary backup method in place also.
Another popular means is Disk.
This is a very popular method which relies on using drives or optical disks to backup data. In terms of speed, it is much faster to backup and restore than with tape and is becoming an increasingly cheaper option due to the fall in hard disk price. However, they are still prone to malfunctions in the mechanical components, writing errors, and to being lost/stolen. It is recommended to have multiple of the same backups in different drives.
The last means of backing up is to The Cloud.
This is an online based backup method which hosts the backups off-site. If you are a small business whose IT services are hosted by another, then it is likely they handle your data backups, but it is worth checking! The biggest advantage of this is that it less labour intensive for you as your provider handles it. Also, depending on your internet speed, it can be quick to restore your systems. A negative is staff trust, a lot of people are still wary of storing data in the cloud. However, many providers should be secure and safe to use.
So how often should our data be backed up? Well, this is entirely up to you and depends highly on your own company’s operations and needs. For example, a company still running mostly on paper may not need daily backups, but another company might. It all depends on how much data you are willing to lose but a good minimum is to at least backup weekly.
How to Back Up
Finally, when devising a backup strategy, it is good practice to follow what is called the 3-2-1 Rule. This is a simple approach that is centred around keeping data safe in almost any failure scenario. The rules are as follows:
- Three copies of your data should be kept
- Two of the copies should be stored on different storage media such as one on a drive and another in the cloud
- One of these backups should be off-site
If all these conditions are followed, then all the data should be able to be restored as it is unlikely all copies will fail, especially if stored across multiple mediums and locations.
We’ve also put together this short explainer video on backups which you can easily share.