9 Essential data backup practices every business should follow

Data Backup Featured Image

Every business operation relies on data. Given the importance of data, businesses have to accept the reality that the data they worked hard to collect, analyze, and store can be lost in an instant. Whether it is due to a hardware malfunction, cyberattack, or natural disaster, data loss can have severe consequences for any organization. At best, it can lead to a temporary setback in operations, but at worst, it can result in crippling financial losses and reputational damage that they may never recover from.

That’s why companies should back up their valuable and irreplaceable data. Here are the most essential data backup practices that every business should follow:

1. Establish a company-specific backup strategy

Each organization has different needs when it comes to data backup, so it’s crucial to develop a strategy that caters to the specific needs and goals of your business. This involves determining the frequency of backups, the type of data to be backed up, and your preferred storage location.

Other important considerations include the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). RTO refers to the acceptable amount of downtime before operations need to be resumed, while RPO is the maximum tolerable amount of data loss during a disruption. By establishing these objectives, businesses can prioritize their backup efforts and ensure that critical data is always available when needed. For example, a company that deals with sensitive customer information will have a shorter RTO and RPO compared to a business that primarily deals with internal documents.

2. Implement the 3-2-1 backup rule

Whatever backup strategy you choose, it’s crucial to follow the 3-2-1 rule, which entails storing at least three copies of data on two different types of storage media, with one copy stored in an off-site location. This rule is the golden standard for data backup because it encourages companies to create several layers of redundancy and protection against data loss. Losing data stored in on-premises servers seems inconsequential if there are additional copies stored in the cloud and a secondary storage device.

3. Secure your backup systems

Backups are no good if they can be compromised by the same threats that caused the data loss in the first place. Companies should therefore protect their backup systems by implementing data security measures such as encryption and access controls. This ensures that in case of a cyberattack or data breach, the backups remain safe and can be recovered without jeopardizing the integrity of the data.

Physical damage to backup systems should also be considered as a potential threat. As such, off-site backup servers should be stored in secure facilities, safe from natural disasters and environmental hazards that may occur in the area.

4. Update your backups

Data is not static, and it constantly changes as business operations continue. Regularly updating backups ensures that the most recent version of data is always available for recovery. Better yet, implement version control to keep track of changes and allow for easy access to previous versions if needed.

5. Use logical naming conventions

Adopting consistent naming conventions for backup jobs enhances organization and clarity. Assign meaningful names to backup jobs, indicating their purpose or destination (e.g., _copy for copy jobs, _cloud for cloud backups). Clear naming conventions simplify management tasks and make it easier to identify and differentiate backup sets.

6. Monitor storage space

Whether you’re using physical servers or cloud storage, keep an eye on available storage space to maintain optimal backup performance. Running out of space can cause backups to fail, leaving your data vulnerable and incomplete. Regularly check storage capacity and allocate additional space as needed. If you own the server, consider upgrading storage capacity or adding more drives. If you have cloud backups, scaling up your data storage is as easy as calling your cloud provider. 

7. Create a backup chain

A backup chain refers to a series of backups linked together in chronological order. It typically consists of full backups (copies of all data), followed by incremental or differential backups (copies of only the changes made since the last full backup). By creating a sensible backup chain, you need to restore only the most recent data in case of a disaster, significantly reducing storage space and recovery time.

8. Implement data retention policies

Data retention policies govern how long data should be stored for backup purposes. It’s essential to establish these policies in accordance with regulations that require businesses to keep specific types of data (e.g., financial records) for a specific period. Most backup systems will allow you to set retention periods and automatically delete data that has exceeded the policy’s timeframe. This enables your business to stay compliant with regulations and avoid unnecessary storage costs.

9. Test backup systems regularly

No matter how robust your backup systems are, they’re a liability if you don’t regularly test them. To test backups, businesses can perform a recovery simulation using backup data on a test environment. This allows for any issues to be identified and resolved before an actual disaster occurs. Backup testing also allows you to identify and address any weaknesses in your backup processes, so you can continuously improve and optimize your backup strategy.

Learn more about Liberty’s One Cloud Services Data Protection Solutions. Over 50 copies of your data is kept on-site and off-site for recovery and DR purposes. Visit us at Data Protection Solutions | Liberty Center One. Don’t wait until a data disaster strikes: take the first step toward a more resilient future by reaching out to us. Contact us today to create an effective data backup strategy.