Disasters happen. Losing enterprise’s data is a real and major threat to any business. In the current Information Age, the potential for data loss is greater than ever. That is why it is important to guard against losses with sound data recovery and backup systems. This guide will give you all the information you need to choose the right backup system for you. Whether you are a sole proprietor of your own company or you are responsible for data security at a big enterprise, this article will help you secure your business’s information to help you sleep at night.
Enterprise Data Loss
Data loss means losing information. There are many causes behind data leakage, but all of them threaten your company’s ability to function and thrive. Again, the threat is more real today than it ever was.
All of the following pose potential threats to your data: hackers (cyber-attack or cyber-theft), physical theft, hardware failure, software failure, natural disaster, and human error. But of all these causes, data leakage due to human error is the most common.
Data leakage can be a result of accident or bad intention. And The more data you have, the more vulnerable you are to data leakage events. At the end of the day, without a backup system in place, your data is lost forever. There is no retrieving it.
The Cost of Data Loss
More alarming than the mere loss of data is the tremendous cost of data loss.
The negative effect of data loss is compounded by its impact on your money, time, and productivity. Not only does a business lose valuable information, but it loses time in trying to recover the lost data and is less productive in the meantime. Without its regular data in place, businesses must try to do without. In some cases, a business cannot function without certain data. Other times, data leakage slows a business down. In every case, data leakage incurs a major financial cost.
Data loss has a staggering cost of $1.7 trillion each year. In the last two years alone, the amount of lost data has increased by 400%. Small data breaches (breaches with less than 100 records lost) cost an average of $18,120 to $35,730, while large data breaches (breaches with more than 100 records lost) cost an average of $5 million to $15.6 million. These numbers are hard to fathom.
Obviously, data loss takes a huge financial toll. So it is in anybody’s best interest to take data leakage seriously. Threats to sensitive information aside, data security is a wise investment even from a purely financial perspective. Though it will cost some money to implement, don’t underestimate how much money data backup can save you in the long-run.
Data recovery and backup are a form of disaster recovery (DR). Disasters can happen to anyone, so it is important to have a plan in place to mitigate them. This type of security planning involves a recovery strategy to minimize the damage done by disruptive events. Again, disruptions include building failures, cyberattacks, and natural disasters, among other events.
A DR plan has many elements. It encompasses backup and recovery software, hardware, power, networking equipment, connectivity, and testing. Consider the following:
- Every business has hardware and software vulnerable to damage or theft.
- Businesses rely on electricity and power, so they must have plans in place in case they go out, like in a power outage.
- Networking equipment includes hubs, switches, routers, firewalls, gateways, multiplexers, and transceivers. Any of these can be compromised and so they must be properly protected.
- Connections can include those of local interfaces (e.g. SCSI, eSATA, USB, and FireWire) and those for long-distance technologies (e.g. iSCSI, Ethernet [LAN], Fibre Channel, and the Internet). A disaster could damage connections that keep the business running.
- A DR plan should include regular testing. Checks and drills help ensure that the recovery plan can execute when the time comes.
The ultimate goal of DR plans is to ensure business continuity, which means businesses are able to continue business operations despite unforeseen complications. That is why they are also called business continuity/disaster recovery (BCDR) solutions. In business, time is money. So any effort to keep business from slowing down is worthwhile.
Enterprise Data Backup and Recovery
Now that we know about disaster recovery, what exactly is data backup and recovery? On the one hand, data backup refers to saving data to a secondary location to guard against data leakage. It is a precautionary measure in the event of a data leakage incident. On the other hand, data recovery refers to the process of retrieving that lost information and restoring it to its former location.
The processes of data backup and data recovery are intimately connected. You only backup data in hopes of being able to recover that data later. And you cannot recover data without having previously backed it up.
The History of Backup Technology
Digital Backup technology has a longer history than you might expect. It goes back to the 1950s with the first tape reels, which stored data on magnetic tape.
After tape reels, disk drives were introduced, which we still use today. Disk drives store information on rotating disks via magnetic, optical, electronic, or mechanical changes to the disk’s surface.
The newest form of backup technology is the cloud. People use the cloud more and more because they prefer how convenient it is. Cloud backup systems don’t require hardware or muchbackup and recovery software. For the most part, it’s a hassle-free option.
Data Backup Strategies
You can backup data via different strategies. The primary backup strategies include a full backup, an incremental backup, and a differential backup:
- A full backup means copying all data from its source to another location. This takes the maximum amount of storage space.
- An incremental backup means only backing up new information, new information since the last backup, that is. The backed up data, then, incrementally builds on itself. This saves space and requires less time each time you perform a backup.
- A differential backup is similar to an incremental backup. A differential backup means only changed data is backed up. One initial full backup takes place, after which only changes to that first set of data are backed up.
Which backup process is right for you will depend on the amount of online storage space you have. Full backups require more time and are more expensive. If you want to be as efficient as possible, consider an incremental or differential backup strategy.
Finally, another backup strategy for maximum data retention is the 3-2-1 strategy. The 3-2-1 strategy involves backing up data to 3 different places, on 2 different storage types, and having 1 extra copy stored in a different geographical location. This strategy provides the ultimate safeguard as you are backing up data for different types of disasters. Having the data in three 3 places means one backup failing won’t be the end. Performing backups on 2 different storage types adds another safety measure. And having one backup in a different geographical location will guard your data against a natural disaster that affects only one geographic region.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
The Recovery Point Objective and the Recovery Time Objective are important measures for your data recovery strategy that help assess risk and cost.
The Recovery Point Objective (RPO) measures how far back you can recover data. The further back in time your RPO, the more data you will lose in a data leakage event. So the shorter your RPO, the better. However, shorter RPOs are more expensive because they require backups more frequently. So your RPO depends on your budget and how much risk you want to take on.
You might also consider a tiered RPO. A tiered RPO involves different RPOs for different types of data. Important data get a shorter RPO, while less important data have a longer RPO. In other words, you backup important data more frequently than other data. In this way, you can assign different RPOs to different classes of data.
The Recovery Time Objective (RTO) measures how fast you can recover data. In a data leakage event, you want to have a short RTO so that you can get back to business as fast as possible. After all, losing time is losing money in business. A shorter RTO is going to be more expensive, but it will reduce the impact of a data leakage event. The industry-standard RTO is 4 to 8 hours. But the RTO you choose will depend on how important a fast recovery is to you and your business.
Types of Enterprise Information/Data to Backup
Not only are there different backup and recovery strategies but there are different types of files to backup. It’s important to keep these in mind to ensure you don’t miss any data vital to your business functioning. In addition to files, it’s important to backup the following:
- Applications and their associated data
- Databases and their associated data structures, formats, tags, and metadata
- System data, including the operating system (OS) and application configurations
- Runtimes, including virtual machines (VMs) and containers
A good backup system will ensure all of these types of data are backed up and packaged correctly. If you don’t look out for these data types, you risk your programs not running properly after data recovery. You also will not be able to guarantee your critical decision making will be effective as your data may be poor.
Best Data Backup Practices
In addition to the backup strategies discussed so far, here are some general guidelines for backing up enterprise’s data:
- Back up your data frequently. Multiple backups will ensure that your backed-up data does not become outdated. If the last time you backed up your data was a year ago, data recovery may not do you much good.
- Backup your data onsite and offsite. Onsite servers are separate, independent drives that you purchase once. They stay in your office somewhere. Offsite servers are located away from your work and are usually leased by a third-party company. Typically, they have a recurring cost in the form of payments. Having your data backed up on both an onsite and an offsite server reduces the risk of data leakage even more.
- Backup your data online in the cloud. Backing up data in the cloud adds another measure of security to your data security plan. Online cloud backup is made possible through third-party service providers (CSPs). Sometimes they refer to themselves as Backup as service (BaaS).
- Verify backups. You always want to test that your backups are working. It won’t do you any good to have a backup system in place if it does not work. So verify that you can locate your backup data often and make sure it functions.
- Encrypt sensitive data. In addition to backing up your data, you want to encrypt it so that even if it does get in the wrong hands, it can’t be used. Data encryption involves scrambling data so that only the intended users, those with the encryption key, can read the information. Again, this ensures that your data cannot be used for malicious reasons.
- Implement network control and authentication. Especially in times of increased remote work and home offices, employees may want to access backup data from their private computers and devices. To ensure the data is secure, require that employees only access the data over secure networks, and require identity authentication. This can take the form of passwords, two-step verification, or even fingerprint verification.
If you follow these guidelines, you can be sure your enterprise’s data is as safe as can be. Don’t risk compromising your data by ignoring too many of these rules.
Choose the Right Data Backup and Recovery System for You
As you see, there are several ways to go about enterprise’s data backup and recovery. The important thing is to choose a plan. You have many backup and recovery systems to choose from, but here I will break down the general categories into which they fall:
- Hardware Systems are ones that rely on a physical drive to store data. These can be rack-mounted systems, USB flash storages, CD/DVD disks, Network Attached Storage (NAS), and even tape recorders. If you choose a hardware system, make sure you have the physical space for it.
- Software Systems are the most popular. They typically have more options and versatility, on top of generally being cheaper.
- Cloud Systems (aka BaaS), are the newest form of data backup and recovery system. They involve backing up data into the cloud instead of through special onsite hardware or backup and recovery software. They come in direct-to-cloud backup and cloud-to-cloud backup service options. Always make sure the cloud service has strong data security measures in place and check its security standards before investing. Just because something is in the cloud does not mean it is out of the reach of hackers. But a good, secure cloud system can be the easiest way to go.
Before you settle on an enterprise’s data backup and recovery system type, you want to make sure you can manage and maintain it properly. So look for the following features in your backup system:
- Automation of routine tasks will save you the need to manually initiate the backup process. You can schedule regular intervals at which the system backs up your data for you. This way, you can sit back knowing your data is safe.
- Backup verification is an important maintenance check. Not all backup systems will do this for you, so look for a backup system that regularly verifies backups for you.
- Policy-based retention means retaining data based on set policies. A backup solution that allows you to set criteria for data retention is incredibly helpful as it allows you to implement more complex backup strategies. You can design your backup system such that only the data you need to back up gets backed up.
- Integration with other applications allows the backupbackup and recovery software to mesh well with programs your business already uses. This can be a valuable asset as it saves you unnecessary hassle trying to coordinate different company software. So look out for good integration features in your backup and recovery software.
Ultimately, good data backup management reduces redundancies. It saves you time and frees up space in the long-run. So don’t forget this important step in data recovery and backup.
The Market for Data Backup and Recovery
Fortunately, the market for data backup and recovery is growing. There is no dearth of backup system options for you to choose from. The global market is expected to grow from $7.13 Billion in 2017 to $11.59 Billion by 2022 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.2%. These predictions are not surprising. The amount of data that companies collect and store is increasing all the time. Businesses collect immeasurable amounts of data via the internet and other technologies. The market for data backup and recovery is here to stay.
Let’s break down the data backup and recovery market by company, designationa, and region. Recent research suggests that Tier 1 companies, C-Level executives, and North America are the primary market participants. Smaller participants include Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies, director- and manager-level executives, and Europe and APAC and ROW.
As data security becomes increasingly important to businesses, the market for data backup and recovery is only set to grow larger.
Find an enterprise recovery and backup system that works for you. Choose a backup and recovery strategy. Stick to the backup guidelines, and manage and maintain your backup data properly. If you follow these steps, you can rest assured that your data is safe. Though disasters may still happen, your information will be protected many layers over. You can sleep knowing that you have done everything you can. Then when adata leakage event does happen, your business will continue working as if nothing ever happened.
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