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Backup best practices and common mistakes to avoid

Backup Mistakes and Best Practices

An interruption in the flow of your critical systems – no matter how small – can wreak havoc on employee productivity, impacting the bottom line.  In a worst-case scenario, your entire organisation can be rendered inoperable and the longer it takes to restore business-critical systems, the larger and more prolonged the implications for a full recovery.

Your business is constantly creating and duplicating data. This data is then stored across multiple devices and endpoints that will be growing steadily year upon year. As the sources of data grow, so do the potential sources of failure, these failures also grow in variety and complexity and may affect your existing backup and disaster recovery strategy.

If you have been tasked with managing these concerns, then read the below best practices to follow and the mistakes to avoid in order to build a robust backup and disaster recovery.

1) Optimise the reliability of your backups

Failing to recover data can be an IT team’s worst nightmare and it can happen for a multitude of reasons: backups becoming corrupted, human error, formatting issues and poor integration with legacy systems. Here are a few steps that you can take to improve the reliability of your backup.

File Quality  

Ensure files undergo a process of validation and healing before being backed up. This will improve the longevity and reliability of these files in the event of a disaster.


Regularly testing the recovery and restoration process is the only method to completely determine the reliability of your backup processes and files. It’s important to carry out scenario testing and drills at a frequency that is relevant to the nature of the servers, applications and data being backed up.

A systematic approach to testing is invaluable in ensuring adherence to any regulatory standards and developing your backup strategy to meet your changing business needs. Failure to establish a regular testing procedure is a major mistake made and unfortunately, it is often realised too late.

Backup Type

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 data backups are performed regularly and that if needed for restoration purposes, the data contained within is the most recent.

2) Establish realistic but relevant RPO and RTO’s

A common mistake made is an underestimation of the time needed to restore data, systems and applications. While senior executives may wish for an instantaneous recovery, the realities of the system complexities and recovery capabilities must be factored in. Meaning 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 that denoted the prioritisation of each business application is critical in delivering realistic recovery times, which minimises the long-term impact to the business.

3) Have an attack plan

Criminals are successfully targeting organisations of all sizes and across all industry sectors, no business is 100% safe. Ransomware attacks have been steadily growing both in commonality and severity. Little can be done to prevent them so 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 data, whilst also reducing recovery time and costs.

4) Train your employees

People make mistakes and these human errors are undoubtedly a major cause of data loss. 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 are key to ensuring 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, cybersecurity measures and other basic principles of data protection.

By following these best practices, you can create an effective backup and disaster recovery strategy that protects enterprise data and the organisation 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.

If you are looking for the right partner to help you create the perfect backup strategy then download our managed service guide. Designed to give you a complete overview of the services and support we provide our clients. 

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