Data loss can be extremely costly for both businesses and individuals. When a business loses sensitive records due to computer malfunction or malware attacks, it could cost them millions of dollars in damages and downtime. On the other hand, losing personal data could take an emotional toll on victims if files lost are irreplaceable.
How can we stop those data loss scenarios from coming to fruition? By putting in place a solid backup and recovery plan.
Everybody that values their digital files absolutely needs to have a backup strategy in place. If you’re not sure where to start with your backup strategy, keep reading to discover simple steps that are worth taking to protect your interests.
1. Assess What Your Needs Are
Before you start putting together a backup and recovery plan, consider what you’re looking to accomplish.
Are you a business owner that needs to keep customer records from getting deleted? Are you an individual that wants to make sure that your family’s photos will be safe if your computer breaks down?
Depending on your needs, the backup and recovery solutions that you leverage will represent significantly different levels of sophistication and cost. Whatever your needs are, keep them in mind as you continue reading.
2. Pick a Backup Solution
All of your important data is living on your computer’s hard drive. Our goal with data backup is to copy pertinent files to an external host so if your computer fails, your data will be safe.
There are a variety of “external hosts” that you can choose from to create a proper backup. Here are a few solutions to consider:
A Private Server
Some companies (particularly larger ones) house their digital backups on servers that typically live in their offices. These servers are wired into their building’s internet and have the job of keeping all network computers backed up.
Private servers can be expensive but are reliable and offer tons of flexibility in the way of data security and automatic backup workflows for large teams.
Chances are, you’re already familiar with cloud storage. Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud are all examples of cloud storage solutions.
Cloud storage can be free for people that have small, personal-use backup needs. But they can cost well over $100.00 per month for larger companies that need to house business data.
External Hard Drives
That USB drive that you use to transfer documents from one computer to another can be used as a basic means of data backup. Some drives that can plug into your USB ports can house terabytes of data and even have built-in encryption that can keep your files safe in transit.
External hard drives are a great backup choice for personal, in-home backups.
To err on the side of caution, many businesses use more than one backup solution to double-protect themselves against failure. For example, a company might backup its files to an internal server and then make a copy of that server and back it up to the cloud.
3. Consider Backup Software
With a backup solution for your files selected, take a moment to consider backup software. Backup software has the ability to automate your backups as opposed to you and your team manually backing up important data.
For example, if your backup solution was an external hard drive, without software, you’d have to drag important files onto your drive in order for those files to be backed up. With a software solution in place, specified files like pictures and documents would automatically sync with your hard drive on a regular basis.
Most hard drives, servers and other backup solutions come with free, proprietary software that you can use to automate backups.
4. Set a Schedule
Forgoing software and manually managing your backup and recovery workflow isn’t recommended for businesses that work with teams of people. If your backup needs are personal though, you could get away with manual data management if you’re consistent.
Set a calendar reminder that prompts you to sync files with your external host at the end of every week and do everything that you can to keep up with those reminders. If you put off backing up for a few weeks and your hard drive crashes, you’re going to be in a tough spot.
5. Assess Your Budget
For companies that have a backup and recovery budget, we recommend not only investing in multiple backup solutions (preferably one physical and one cloud-based) but also having an IT professional consult on your data backup workflow.
Having a professional set of eyes look over your solutions can help you identify workflow snags and security lapses that could result in data loss. Professionals can also counsel you on what may be legally required in the way of data security depending on your state.
6. Map out a Recovery Plan
At this point, you know where your data is going to be backed up and how that data is going to get from your computer to its backup destination (manually/automatically). Now you need to map out the recovery portion of your backup and recovery plan.
For individuals, recovery from data loss might be as easy as plugging your external hard drive into a new computer and copying the files from your drive onto your replacement machine. For businesses utilizing multiple backup solutions, things can get a lot trickier.
For complicated recoveries, talk to an IT consultant for advice on getting things up and running again without exposing your data to security risks.
Having a Backup and Recovery Plan Is Essential in Today’s Digital-Focused Environment
A business without a backup and recovery plan is a business that’s waiting to shut its doors. An individual without a backup solution is a person that’s asking for major head and heartaches.
Avoid all of that stress by heeding our advice and getting a plan in place. Your future self will thank you.
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