Many small and midsized businesses worry about their data and servers, and rightly so—data loss, particularly the loss of customer data, is expensive, and many companies never recover from a catastrophic incident. Keeping software and hardware in tip-top shape is a good guard against threats, but it’s not foolproof. A bulletproof backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity solution is the key. A 2016 survey by UK-based Databarracks found that almost a quarter of data loss events (23 percent) were caused by human error, as opposed to just 16 percent attributed to hardware failure. In other words, a random non-IT employee innocently messing around with your systems or using a password of “123456” can cause a problem as easily as a cyberattack or a server that goes kaput.
Most businesses and their IT teams understand this dilemma and take steps to ensure data backup. Unfortunately, their answer might be to do one of the following:
- Backing up to a direct attached external hard drive on the server. This is easily compromised by a hacker or modern ransomware.
- Backing up to a network share, especially a Windows one.
- Having some sort of average backup, but not monitoring or managing them.
- Having backup in place, but not having any disaster recovery or business continuity plans.
The ideal backup best practice is to have a second server on-premise, which allows a business to spin up pieces of an environment fairly quickly. Here’s a more detailed look at this strategy that can ultimately save your infrastructure:
The Risks Are Real
From executives to IT specialists to rank-and-file employees, the thought of a server failure and/or a data compromise is a worst-case scenario. If data is essential for selling to interacting with customers, any interruption becomes a severe problem. Coordinated cyberattacks, ransomware, cooling issues, hardware breakdowns, connectivity issues, external events such as earthquakes, and the aforementioned human error are risks not only to your operations, but also to your server infrastructure. Take cyberattacks, for example. The bad guys are constantly adjusting their tactics, meaning you (and even data security experts) may have no idea what form the next attack will take (“zero day” attacks). Your most solid defense is a robust backup strategy that restores data no matter how it was disrupted in the first place.
Data Backup Should Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Alas, many SMBs don’t get serious about data backup until after some sort of server cataclysm has occurred. Pardon the cliché, but that’s the equivalent of closing the henhouse door after the fox has made off with a yummy chicken dinner. Reactive data backup leaves you two steps behind and does little to recover the data you may have already lost. A better strategy is to proactively establish and refine strong backup policies and infrastructure before your customer data is ever lost. The fox might still get into the henhouse, but at least you’ll have a bunch of hens in another barn to lay eggs …
A Smart Server Strategy
The preferred data backup strategy (and one that we at Be Structured subscribe to) is to store customer data on a second server as well as in an off-site location at the same time. The second server–especially because it is a Linux server on-premise–protects us from on-site risks such as ransomware, employee errors, hardware failure, etc. But what the separate server really does vs. using the same piece of hardware–is that it allows us to spin parts or all of the environment backup quickly. This is the disaster recovery and business continuity pieces of the puzzle. The offsite is rarely used, but it is part of the overall puzzle in the case of catastrophic failure (fire, flood, etc.).
Again, the key is being proactive and preparing data backup before you need it. That day may never come, but not preparing for it is nevertheless dangerous. It’s like life insurance — you hope you never have to use it, but it’s a must-have. However, by outsourcing to the right technology partner, strengthening your recovery strategy—and incorporating the critical element of an additional server and offsites to backup data—becomes not so daunting. The best managed service providers assess your current server status and recommend a solution that makes the most sense for your business. Moreover, such a partner can monitor your data, consistently back it up, and help with recovery in case a disaster does strike. In this way, data backup is more than just a strategy—it’s peace of mind.
How confident are you with your business’s backup solution?