Check Your Backups

Backups are fantastic.

Backups are fantastic. They offer peace of mind that, no matter what happens, your business data will be safe and secure and your business can carry on operating.

You’re probably already backing up your files even if you don’t realise it. Services like OneDrive and Dropbox save a copy of your files in the cloud so that you don’t lose them even if your computer goes bang!

But, whether you’re using a cloud storage services, or you have a properly thought out backup strategy, ask yourself. When was the last time you checked those backups?

Have you ever checked that you can get those files back if your hard drive fails, or you get hit with ransomware? Those backups are a great safety net, but only if they work when you need them most.

Before you do anything else today, give yourself the time for a few simple checks to make sure your files are as safe as you think.

Check Your Strategy

Any file or piece of data that your business can’t survive without should exist in at least 3 separate places. That way, any two backups can fail and you still haven’t lost anything.

And, just keeping three copies of everything in three folders on your computer isn’t enough. Imagine if your hard drive failed – all three backups would be wiped out in one fell swoop.

Instead, you need to diversify your backups as much as possible. You need to ensure your backups are off-device, and at least one is off-site. No two backups should be on the same physical piece of equipment (computer, laptop, phone, USB drive or network-attached storage). And your backups should span at least two physical locations, far enough apart that they can’t both be wiped out by the same flood, fire or break-in.

With this principle, ensuring that no one event can take out all of your backups, you’ll stay resilient against anything the world can throw at your business.

Check Your Coverage

With a good strategy in place, you need to make sure that everything that needs backing up is being backed up.

Files are the easy target – most backup solutions are designed for easy file backup across multiple locations. But you may also have line-of-business software that stores its data in a database, or a complex VoIP phone system setup that is stored directly on the hardware and would take hours of work to replicate.

Make sure that every scrap of data that your business relies on is included in your backups. Many systems have backup routines that can make this process easy, but some may require some digging around in your file system to locate the right files to target. Google can be your friend in these situations.

Check Your Threats

Think through every possible cause of data loss you can think of. Consider user error, hardware failure, natural disaster, external vendor failure (cloud providers can have breakdowns too), even cyber-attacks.

Make sure that for every scenario you come up with, you have a backup that will survive it. An offsite backup in another town will survive a fire in your office, an immutable copy of your data will be safe from ransomware, and a simple backup to another computer in the office will be safe from hardware failure of your primary machine (but make sure you think about what would happen if an electrical surge took out all the electronics in the building!)

If you find an event that could wipe out all your backups, then make a change. Either move an existing backup, or add a new one to add an extra layer of resilience.

When you’re done, run through the entire list again until you can go from top to bottom without losing all your data. This will ensure that the changes you make for one scenario don’t leave you vulnerable to another scenario you’ve already considered.

Check Your Backups

The final step is arguably the most important. Make sure your backups work. A backup is useless if it doesn’t work when you need it to – you might as well not bother with it at all in this case!

In an ideal world, you’ll take the time to do a full disaster recovery simulation. Take a computer, a server, or another piece of equipment and wipe it – delete all the files on it and start fresh. Then, make sure you can restore all the data you need on that device from your backups. No cheating, no recreating things from memory or digging through your emails. Make sure every file you need can be pulled from your backup.

Now, this is a test and there’s a chance something could fail (that’s the whole reason you’re doing this after all) so it’s probably best to run this exercise when you’re setting up a new computer or server. That way, if anything doesn’t restore correctly you haven’t already wiped it from the old machine.

If a full test would be too disruptive, then try something a little smaller. Pick on a few random files, and try to restore them from backup. Again, no cheating, don’t pick something because you know it’ll work. In fact, pick some of the files that you’re most concerned about – maybe some really old files, or files you’ve had trouble backing up before. The point of the test is to force an error if one can be found, not just to tick a box to give you a warm fuzzy feeling!

Proper backup management is critical to the resilience of your business and these simple steps will go a long way to making sure you’re able to survive some of the worst problems a business can be faced with.

If all of this is a little too much for you to take on at the moment, we’re here to help. A free 30-minute call is all we need to talk through your current strategy and give you some pointers on how to improve your backup posture. No hard sell, no commitment, just simple, honest advice.

Need Some Help?

If you’d like to have a chat about your current IT setup, just fill in the form and hit send.

It’s that simple!

No commitment. No pressure. Just an informal chat about your pain points and a few easy things that you can do to improve things.