By Kyle Christopher
Consistent and regular backups of critical business data are crucial for your recovery strategy and business continuity. You’re at a greater risk if you treat it simply as a checklist item on your IT audit. It’s much better to consider the risks of losing critical data. Which data is critical to your organization from an operational standpoint? Moreover, have you considered which data is critical if you are a customer-facing business? Do you have a backup strategy in place that will insure you against potential downtime? Clear backup policies must be in place that are monitored by IT and business stakeholders.
Consider these points to make sure your backup policy is up to par.
1. Have A Backup Policy
Your backup policy is a pre-defined schedule whereby specific business applications (Oracle, Microsoft SQL, email server databases, user files, etc.) are copied to disk or tape to ensure you can recover that data in the event of data deletion, corruption of information or some kind of outage. Policies usually have a default protection scheme for most of the servers in your environment. There will also be additional policies for certain critical applications and data.
How often are you backing up your data? It is a best practice to have a backup policy for all application data which backs up nightly. It is ideal if you have both a local backup, whereby you can quickly recover your data, as well as a remote, offsite backup so that your data is backed-up in a secure location. Do you have this type of solution in place? If not, are you concerned that obtaining such a solution is too time and labor-intensive for your already-overtaxed staff? That certainly might be the case if you’re planning to do it all yourself. However, considering alternative and pre-owned data storage is an inexpensive and efficient way to protect you against unanticipated data loss or outage.
2. Define Your Critical Applications
It is a best practice to have a super-set of policies that protect your critical applications. This would be in addition to any regular backups that you are already performing, such as the ones mentioned above. To specify, you should have point-in-time snapshots of data that are taken and replicated at frequent intervals throughout the day. This will provide you with very rapid recovery that is also granular with regard to your data and application recoverability.
3. Determine the Frequency of Your Backups
As alluded to previously, it will be important for you to have a backup policy that performs an initial full backup of data, followed by a series of intervening incremental or differential daily backups.
4. Decide Backup Locations
Where do you have your data backed up in the event of a catastrophe such as fire or flood? In order for you to be able to truly recovery your data, you will need to determine an offsite location where you will have all your data securely stored. Of course, this will be your recovery copy of last resort as the offsite location is not ideal for fast recovery of data. You wouldn’t store all of your family photos on one computer would you? Of course you would not. Neither should you store all of your business data in one onsite location.
5. Figure Our Your Backup Types
How often do you plan to do a full backup of your data? When building a policy, the most obvious beginning point is creating a policy with a full backup. This will consist of taking a complete copy of all the data on a particular host or set of hosts. A lot of IT departments will run full backups every night. However, in larger environments, full backups nightly are out of the question as these take longer – as long as 24 hours – and consume a lot of resources needed for optimal uptime. As a result, many data centers will do full backups on weekends with incremental backups performed throughout the week. These incremental backups will only back up the data that has changed since the last backup.
6. Define Your Physical Devices
A best practice is to use separate disks or tapes for each incremental backup job. This ensures a level of local redundancy if a drive happens to be defective. Generically speaking, differential backups are different from incremental backups in that they backup ALL the data that has changed since the last full backup, capturing all previous, full backups.
7. Have a Reliable Backup Solution
The purpose of backup policies is to ensure consistent and reliable methods for recovering your data so that you’re not caught “with your storage down” so to speak. Backup policies that require the end user to manually copy their files over to a network file share, for example, are very risky. In addition, at the end of the day, IT is responsible for any backups that are or are not performed.
In conclusion, IT should take ownership of backup up all data. If not, the probability remains high that there will be some measure of data loss, for which IT directors will be responsible. Regularly defined backup schedules with on and offsite data stores will keep you insured against critical data loss. It will also keep your business functioning internally and externally. Regardless of your backup architecture, establishing clear and regimented policies is a good first toward protecting your business data.
Whether you need extra drive capacity or a full data replication site, Reliant is here to help you assess your options. Do you have the policies in place needed to secure your critical business applications and data? Were you aware that pre-owned storage solutions are usually very recent generations of hardware?
Contact us to see how we can provide inexpensive and fast solutions for your backup needs. The best way to reach us is by phone at 877.227.0828 or via email at Sales@Reliant-Technology.com.