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Backup and Disaster Recovery Services: What You Need to Know

May 16, 2022 Leo Expert advice

Although nobody expects it to happen to them, the loss of data due to cyber attacks, accidents and hardware failure is an increasingly common event. It happens to hundreds of businesses just like yours every single day, so the question you have to ask yourself is: ‘Am I prepared?’

The key to surviving a data or security breach is to have an effective strategy in place. Business backup and disaster recovery services play a different but equally important part in helping you avoid the potentially devastating consequences of a data breach. And at Comms Unite, we can help you put a robust and reliable solution in place. 

What is the difference between data backup and disaster recovery?

Data backup and disaster recovery have different parts to play in protecting the long-term continuity of your business.

  • Data backup is the process of making multiple copies of your business’s data on an ongoing basis. If you lose your data for any reason, you can then use one of your backups to restore it.

A backup can protect your data from a technical issue such as a crashed hard drive, accidental deletion or a problem with a software upgrade. Whatever the issue, with a backup in place, you can access a copy of your data immediately.  

  • Disaster recovery, on the other hand, is the process of trying to recover your business’s data and reestablish access to applications, data and IT resources after an adverse event. 

You shouldn’t get too caught up in the term ‘disaster’. It does not always have to be a major incident. For example, your network could crash, leaving your employees unable to work for the day. In that case, your disaster recovery plan might be to switch over to a mirrored system until the problem with your original network is fixed.

Whatever it is that needs securing, whether it’s an important database or an archive of unstructured files, backup and disaster recovery services are most effective when they’re used in combination. And we can put them in place for you. 

Understanding the key backup and disaster recovery terms

When you’re thinking about business backup and disaster recovery services, it pays to have a grasp of a few of the key terms you’re likely to encounter, including:

Backup window
This is the time slot or window that’s most suitable to schedule backups on a particular system. Typically, these are planned after business hours when the system is not being used.
Business continuity
This broad term is used to describe all of the activities that are intended to keep your business’s critical functions in operation following a serious incident or ‘disaster’.
Cloud disaster recovery
Rather than having to invest in your own physical infrastructure, cloud disaster recovery is a service that gives you remote access to your systems in a secure, online environment so you can quickly after a disaster.
Remote data backup
This is a service that allows you to backup your critical data to remote servers that are usually located in the cloud. Your data is encrypted and held there securely until you need to restore it.
Recovery point objective (RPO)
RPO describes the interval of time that can pass after a disaster before the amount of data lost exceeds the point that is acceptable to an organisation. For example, if a data outage lasts 10 hours and your business’s RPO is 15 hours, you are still within acceptable levels according to your business continuity plan.
Recovery time objective (RTO)
This benchmark indicates how quickly data must be recovered to avoid unacceptable consequences resulting from a break in continuity. RTO designates the time that can pass before a disruption has severe consequences, while RPO is focused on the quantity of data loss.

What are the different types of data backup?

It’s not the case that there’s a single backup that’s suitable for every business. Most business backup service providers can set up a variety of different backups according to a business’s size, the type of data, how you use it and how often you update your systems or documents. You can then use one or a combination of those methods to safeguard your data.

Local backup – A local backup is any backup where the data is kept on-site. Typically, you plug the storage into the computer that’s being backed up or link the two via a local area network (LAN).

Cloud or remote backup – This type of backup allows your data and applications to be stored on a remote server that you can access online.  

Hybrid backup – Hybrid backup services combine cloud storage and local backups to create the most secure way of recovering your data from a wide range of disaster scenarios. For example, if you spill your coffee over your local backup, you still have a backup located in the cloud. 

Full backup – A full backup includes all of the files and folders selected or even all of the data on a machine. This backup method consumes a lot of storage space and can take a long time to complete, but it does make the process of restoring the data more simple. 

Incremental backup – After an initial full backup, incremental backups can be used to store only the changes that have been made to your data since the previous backup cycle, whether it was a full or an incremental backup.

Differential backup – Very similar to an incremental backup, a differential backs up all the changes that have been made since the previous backup. The crucial difference is that it only stores the changes made since the previous full backup.

Mirror backup – This is a real-time duplicate of the data that you want to backup. However, mirror backups should be used with caution, as files deleted in the source data are also deleted in the mirror backup, typically after 30 days. This type of backup aims to balance safety with the efficient use of storage space.  

Why does your business need backup and disaster recovery?

The world is unpredictable, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, disaster could strike at any minute. Remember, disaster doesn’t necessarily have to be a cataclysmic event. In this context, it could be your network crashing or one of your employees deleting the wrong file by mistake. With that in mind, here are a couple of reasons why you should give business backup and disaster recovery services some serious thought. 

To protect the systems and data your business depends on

At its most basic level, backup services and disaster recovery can help to protect your business from the potentially catastrophic effects of a serious data breach. Cyber attacks are rampant, hard drives can malfunction unpredictably and employees can perform malicious acts or simply make honest mistakes. Without a backup and disaster recovery plan in place, any of these events could cripple your applications, workflows and sales, and potentially derail your business. 

Restored data and software may become corrupted and fail

Your backup software is software like any other and it can be just as prone to failure. That’s why backing up your data is only the start of your journey. You also need to have the right recovery systems connected to your data and the correct processes and tools in place to allow you to recover that data when you need to. To ensure business continuity, you should design, deploy and test your backup and disaster recovery plans long before they’re needed. 

What can cause data loss?

Data loss is an ever-present threat that can have a lasting impact on your business’s financial health. It can be caused by many different factors, including:

  • Hard drive crashes and system failure – This is the most common cause of data loss and is responsible for 40% of incidents according to a world-leading study.
  • Human error – Accidental deletion and physical damage are two examples of honest mistakes that can lead to data loss. This is the cause of 29% of data loss events. 
  • Software corruption – Responsible for 13% of data loss events, software corruption can be the result of power outages and software that you don’t shut down properly.
  • Theft – The theft of information by employees or outsiders is quite a rare event, responsible for 9% of data loss, but it can be particularly damaging to your business’s reputation.
  • Cyber attacks – Despite their prevalence, computer viruses and malware are only responsible for 6% of data loss events, but you must protect yourself against them. Often, backup data is the only way to recover lost data from malware and viruses. 
  • Natural disasters – Floods, fires and other accidents are only responsible for 2% of data loss events, but it’s still important to take measures to protect yourself. 

Keep your clients and customers in the loop

Any data loss can disrupt employee productivity, destroy data, freeze business processes, and perhaps most importantly, damage your customer interactions. The loss of reputation due to the damaged interactions and bad press around an outage can be one of the most difficult aspects of a data loss event to recover from. 

Unlike the data itself, recovering the trust of your customers it’s not something you can do overnight. That’s why you should be open and honest with your customers and build a robust and tested backup and disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity. 

Get expert advice on your IT security

Give us a call on 01473 599020 or email hello@comms-unite.co.uk to get help on any aspect of your IT infrastructure or security and to find out how urgently you might need to think about your data.  

May 9, 2022 By Richard
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