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How Often Should A Business Back Up Its Data?

If the idea of losing all your data scares you, you should already have a data backup and recovery plan in place. A data backup solution saves a copy of your data at regular intervals, ideally in a format that can be easily recovered in an emergency. But when you have a backup a solution in place, how often should you back up your data?

Data is vital to the success of most modern businesses. How long realistically could your business survive without access to data? If you lost access to all your records, customer contact information, financial data, stock inventory etc. could you still serve your customers? Having a reliable, secure, easily restored backup of your data is the only way to have peace of mind. How you go about this will vary depending on the amount of data you are backing up and how vital the data is. Many businesses are now using off-premises backups which are stored in the cloud rather than a physical backup on premises.

The Importance Of Data Backup For Businesses 

When your business is connected to the internet, you are exposed to hundreds of threats and vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, no company is too big or too small to be vulnerable to hackers, ransomware, viruses, or phishing scams.  

Over half the businesses which suffer a major data loss incident will go out of business in the following 12 months, and those which do not are likely to suffer a loss of revenue and reputation.   

While most online threats can be protected against with professional cybersecurity services, you can never guarantee the security of your data to an absolute degree. For this reason, it is vital to have a reliable backup of your data which can be easily restored if that the original data is lost, stolen, or becomes corrupted. Data recovery is a vital part of ensuring business continuity after a disaster. If your business is unfortunate enough to suffer a data loss incident, it is vital for you to be able to get your organization back up and running again as soon as possible. To limit downtime in your organization and restore your data quickly and seamlessly, you will need the correct data backup and recovery processes in place. 

What are some security issues related to backups?
Having an effective backup is not a replacement for having professional cybersecurity, there are plenty of ways that a hacker can do damage to your business which leave your data intact. Your backup itself also needs to be secured with the same level as diligence as the rest of your network. Even if you are using a public cloud service, you are still responsible for securing the access to your cloud assets. This is why it is important that you protect your data with passwords and other security measures when it is backed up to the cloud. 

The 3-2-1 Method
A good rule to follow for data backups is called the “3, 2, 1 Principle”. So called because it is considered best practice to have:  

  • At least 3 copies of your data.  
  • On at least 2 different media. 
  • At least 1 copy should be stored in a separate location.  

An example of a data backup solution that follows this 3, 2, 1 principle would be backing up your server to a local NAS drive and backing it up to a cloud storage platform. This way you have 3 copies of your data, stored on two different storage media (the original, 1 physical NAS backup and 1 in the cloud), and the cloud storage is physically separate from the original server and the backup NAS. This means that even if you had an office fire which destroyed the original server and the NAS drive, you would still have a copy of your data in the cloud which could be recovered to a new server once you had set up at a new office or worked on in the cloud. 

How Often Should A Business Back Up Its Data?

It’s a good idea to back important data up frequently, but at a minimum, do it once per twenty-four hours. How often you back up your business’s data may vary depending on how dependant your business is on being able to access its data and how much historical data you need to continue working. Here are some factors that can help inform your decision: 

  • How much data do you have to back up?
    Essentially, what is the estimated amount of data stored on your servers at any one time? The more data you have, the longer each backup will normally take, and the more storage space will be required
  • How often is your data updated?
    If you rarely add or change the data you use, you may not need to back it up as frequently. However, other businesses make changes to their data so often that even a few hours’ worth of changes could make their old data useless. These businesses may need more regular backups or even real-time continuous backups
  • What kind of hardware are you using to store your backups?
    Are they separate from the servers themselves or part of the same system (meaning that one failure could take out both)? Ideally, you should be following the 3-2-1 method described in the section above and storing at least one of your backups separately from your main premises.
  • How much time and money do you have available for making backups?
    Ideally, the majority of your backups will be automated and scheduled at regular intervals, otherwise you will be using up a lot of time doing them, and it will be harder to scale if you need to make your backups more frequent. 

What Are The Different Types Of Data Backup That Are Performed?

Understanding backup methods can help you choose the right backup strategy for your business. The four main types of data backup methods are: 

  • Full Backup
    This method of backup copies all data to a storage device or cloud platform, as the name suggests. A full backup has the benefit of providing a complete copy of all data on a single set of media. As a result, data restoration takes very little time. The drawbacks are that full backups take longer to complete than other options and take up more storage space. As a result, full backups are normally only performed occasionally. Small data centres (especially those with vital applications) may decide to execute a full backup every day, or even more frequently in specific circumstances. In backup operations, a complete backup is frequently used in conjunction with incremental or differential backups. If you only have a small amount of data, you should perform a full backup daily, but if you have a large amount of data, every 7 days might be more realistic.
  • Incremental Backup
    Incremental backups only backup data which has changed since the last backup. So, if you have 1TB of data, and you add a 1MB file to your server, you only need to backup that additional 1MB. This makes incremental backups a great option for many businesses. Because the amount of data that need to be backed up each time is relatively small, you can run incremental backups as often as you like.
  • Differential Backup
    Differential backups are similar to incremental backups, however the key difference is that differential backups only back up data which has changed since the last full backup, whereas incremental backups backup data that has changes since the previous incremental backup. Differential backups are quicker but the amount of data being backed up will increase each time until you run your next full backup.
  • Mirror Backup
    As the name suggests, a mirror backup is an exact replica of your entire system. All your files—including personal docs, the operating system, applications, boot information, hidden files, settings, and installed applications—are all backed up to your “mirror” drive. Mirror backups can take even longer to complete than full backups. 

What Is The Difference Between Backing Up Data And Archiving Data?

While you might hear people use the terms “backup” and “archive” interchangeably, they actually have very distinct meanings when it comes to professional managed IT. 

  • What is a data backup?
    A data backup is a copy of your data which can be easily and quickly restored in the event of your own data being lost or corrupted. This is why it is important to ensure that backups are working and can be restored easily and quickly. Unlike an archive, a backup is not designed for long term storage
  • What is a data archive?
    Archived data is data which has been stored and catalogues in such a way that it can be stored long-term. Oftentimes, accurate, historical archives are required for financial compliance and regulatory reasons
  • What are the similarities and differences between backing up and archiving data?
    Both data backups and data archives are ways of storing data. Archives are designed for long-term, inexpensive storage. Historical data is stored in archives, so if an archive system is lost or corrupted, this data will be permanently lost. Remember that this information may be the only copy, even though it is likely to be outdated or rarely used. Backup and archiving are related, but each has its own purposes. Data backups and data archiving complement each other and can be used together. 

How Carden IT Services Can Help With Your Data Backup And Recovery

It’s important to back up your data regularly. Not only is it a good idea, but it can save you money and time in the long run. Hopefully, you now understand the importance of data backups, as well as the different types of backups that can be performed. Carden IT Services LLC offers a variety of disaster recovery and data backup services, ensuring that your organization can maintain business continuity and minimise downtime in the event of a data loss incident. We can help set up an automated system of data backups as well as assist with more long-term data archiving. We also have a disaster recovery team who can help you prepare for, prevent, and recover from business disasters like data breaches, office fires, ransomware attacks, or other system-wide crises. 

You can reduce the consequences of most business disasters and prevent them from compromising the overall stability of your organization by using a combination of data backup, failover solutions, cloud services and disaster recovery planning. You can learn more about our data backup and recovery services here or speak to our team today to get started. 

Author: Jeremy Huson

Jeremy Huson is the founder and director of Carden IT Services LLC. He has nearly two decades of experience managing businesses’ IT networks and his areas of expertise are IT consultation and cybersecurity.