Happy World Backup Day! On this day we'd like to take today to remind everyone why off-site backups are the best way to protect your mission-critical data. If something catastrophic occurs - whether it is a ransomware attack, a natural disaster, or simply a hardware failure - you do not want to lose anything essential. But you should also think a little more critically about your plan if disaster strikes. If you truly want to disaster-proof your organization, then you need to make sure you think of the following:
- Assess what you need to back up. Certain data is naturally going to be more valuable to your organization. Intellectual property or roadmap details, for example, are critical, and their integrity must be maintained. Other data, such as old schedules or business intelligence, is of lower priority. Think of it this way - every piece of data you backup costs something, and you need to be wise with how you allocate your funds.
- Ensure failover for mission-critical systems and apps. Downtime is extremely costly, and anything you can do to minimize it is well worth the effort. To that end, it is advisable that you use some form of failover solution. Have backup infrastructure ready to roll out the moment an outage occurs, and ensure your critical apps remain accessible as much as possible.
- Create and test a disaster recovery plan. What is your plan for when your systems go down? Amidst modern disaster recovery solution and backup automation, it is easy to forget that the most important thing you can do to weather an outage is to go in with a plan. Think about the likely threats your business might face, and consider cost-effective ways to mitigate and minimize them - and how to recover from them.
- Encrypt your data. Especially if you are backing up sensitive or regulated data, effective disaster-proofing requires that you apply strong, on-disk encryption - and data in-transit encryption as well. Your backups, after all, are stored on a disk like anything else. If you do not secure them, what is to stop someone from simply targeting those instead of your business? Not to mention, if you store customers’ credit card or sensitive health data, you need to make sure you’re complying with PCI and/or HIPAA regulations.
- Automate and schedule your backups. People are fallible, and that is precisely why manual backups are a bad idea. Scheduling your backups to occur automatically means you never have to worry about forgetting a backup again.
- Don’t just backup - snapshot, too. In addition to backing up your data, it is also advisable to take snapshots. Snapshots take an image of your entire server rather than backing up individual files and save the entire server image for easy recovery.
- Test everything. Last but not least, make sure your systems work properly by testing them regularly. Whether or not you have incorporated failover is irrelevant if it fails the moment things go south.