In the modern enterprise environment, the availability of data and applications is a critical requirement for continued business operations. An interruption in this flow of systems - no matter how small - can wreak havoc on employee productivity, impacting the bottom line. In a worst-case scenario, an entire organisation can be rendered inoperable and the longer it takes to restore the systems, the larger and more prolonged the implications for a full recovery.
With corporate data being created, duplicated and stored across multiple devices and endpoints the volume and complexity contained within corporate storage is growing steadily year upon year. And as the potential sources of a break in the protection of organisational data grow in number, variety and complexity, business continuity requirements call for even backup and disaster recovery protocols.
For IT teams tasked with managing these concerns, we have complied data backup best practices as well as some mistakes to avoid, to ensure that the overall backup and disaster recovery strategy remains complainant with business continuity objectives.
1) Optimise the potential for the reliability of your backups
Failed data recoveries are an IT team’s worst nightmare and they can arise for a variety of often unpredictable reasons: backup data can become corrupted, human error, incorrect formatting, and poor integration with legacy systems.
Steps can and should be taken to ensure that the reliability of data backups can be depended on.
By ensuring files undergo a process of validation and healing before being backed up, the longevity and reliability of these files in the event of a disaster and need for restoration can be maintained.
Regularly testing the recovery and restoration process is the only method to completely determine the reliability of your backup processes and files. Simulated scenario testing and drills should be performed at a frequency which is relevant to the nature of the servers, applications and data being backed up. A systematic approach to testing is often invaluable in ensuring an adherence to any regulatory compliance standards and developing ongoing business protocols. Failure to establish a regular testing procedure is a major mistake made by a number of organisations, and it is often only realised too late.
Full, Incremental and Differential, they all have their benefits and limitations. By determining the nature of each data set, the frequency at which it grows and then evaluating the pros and cons of each, a process for performing regular backups can be incorporated into the backup strategy. This ensures that comprehensive data backups are performed regularly and that if needed for restoration purposed, the data contained within is the most recent.
2) Establish realistic but relevant RPO and RTO’s
A common mistake made by organisations is an underestimation of the time needed to restore data, systems and applications. While senior executives would all like to wish for an instantaneous recovery time, the realities of the system complexities and recovery process capabilities must be factored in. This means that IT teams must be involved in ongoing discussions with other invested parties to establish expectations and the realities of achieving them, therefore creating realistic business continuity standards.
Planning for accurate recovery times and creating a classification system which denoted the prioritisation of each business application is critical in delivering realistic recovery times, which minimises the long-term impact to the business.
3) Plan for a cyber attack
With cyber criminals successfully targeting organisations of all sizes and across all industry sectors, it is perhaps more than a mistake to think that it could never be you. Ransomware attacks in particular are growing both in commonality and severity, and with little to be done to prevent them, backing up organisational data is perhaps the only secure method of protection.
As part of the backup and disaster recovery strategy, a response plan must manage the data breach in a way that limits damage and protects other organisational data, whilst also reducing recovery time and costs.
4) Train your employees
Human error is unavoidable and it is undoubtedly a root cause of a number of data losses. But a workforce lacking in knowledge and understanding of key data protection principles are likely to create additional problems for the IT teams, particularly in relation to the data created and stored on endpoint devices. Education and training is key to ensure that all data backup protocols are followed by the whole organisation and not just by the IT team. This can include the backup of laptops and other endpoint devices, cyber security measures and other basic principles of data protection.
By bearing in mind these best practices, an effective backup and disaster recovery plan can protect enterprise data and the organisation as a whole by minimising the potential for financial loss and reputational damage. By reducing the impact of downtime, employee productivity can be maintained, preserving the overall operational efficiency.
Check out our Managed Service guide to learn more about our bespoke backup and disaster recovery solution, 100% created and owned by us, and how our services can not only save your data from disaster, but also save your budget.