The risk of data loss is highly probable for businesses of all sizes. Without a solid data back up system and recovery process, a loss of data can be severely damaging to your business.
SMEs are the most vulnerable. One study found that 60% of businesses that suffer a data breach go out of business after six months.
Business continuity can also be heavily affected. IT downtime is estimated to cost UK businesses an average of £3.6 million every year. Financial losses due to network failure vary between £4,300 and £258, 000 per hour.
The data backup strategy of a lot of companies today involves storing documents locally on computers. Whilst this is one solution, a solid data backup strategy should ideally have several moving parts. Given around 93% of hard drives malfunction every year, local storage is not a solid solution.
A well-developed data backup strategy protects your business by ensuring your data is recoverable. If you do suffer a loss of data, your backup strategy should enable you to bounce back immediately.
Why Do You Need A Solid Data Backup System?
1. Prevent Interruptions to Business Operations
A data loss will undoubtedly have a negative impact on your business. Companies that experience technical failures suffer a loss of productivity, others will lose a loss of service that impacts your customers.
If your online service is not available to customers when they need it, they may find alternative solutions. You will most certainly lose prospects and your brand reputation will suffer.
2. Eliminate lost work
Computer systems are prone to crashing. Without effective backup recovery software employees could lose a day’s work. Although the majority of office software has recoverable, there is still the possibility an employee can accidentally delete files.
Laptops also have a short shelf life of around three years and can stop working at any moment. If the hard drive dies without backing up your data, locally stored files are lost. Recreating lost data has a significant impact on productivity.
3. Legal Compliance
Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998, businesses in the UK have an obligation to ensure data is “handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage”.
More recently, the General Data Protection Regulations hold businesses accountable for data loss. Penalties for a loss of data max out at £17.5 million or 4% of your annual turnover – whichever is the greater amount.
GDPR regulators are not taking data breaches lightly. Although the EU claims fines are not as severe as they could be, last year saw regulators issue £242.6m in fines.
4. Negative Brand Reputation
A data loss is a financial and PR disaster. Data loss, especially if a network is breached by hackers, shatters customer loyalty and damages the reputation of your brand.
A survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute reveals 81% of companies expect a loss of customer data would result in financial loss. On average, businesses lose around 21% of their customers and take around a year to recover their brand reputation.
Cybercrime arguably poses the biggest threat to online businesses right now. Whilst a data backup strategy won’t prevent a cyberattack, a disaster recovery process will ensure business continuity and a potential business sinking fine.
Recent data breaches involving Elon Musk’s Solar Winds and Bill Gates Microsoft underscores that no business is impenetrable. In the last year, multiple tech leaders have suffered data breaches including Google, Amazon, Cisco, Twitter, Twilio, T-Mobile, Virgin Media, Nintendo, and Nasa.
HMRC has suffered 11 serious data breaches. The UK Home Office, and ironically, the UK Financial Conduct Authority have also fallen foul of GDPR.
Data Backup Systems To Avoid
There are several data backup solutions on the market. It should be noted they are not all created equal. The cheap and easy options will deliver partial performance but do not safeguard you for a variety or potential incidents in which data loss can occur.
Sync File Solutions
Standard backup systems that can be considered as “freemium” software sync files and store a copy on a separate platform.
Whilst synchronising files has its uses, it is not an effective solution to use as your primary backup system. The synchronised files simply create a mirror-image of the file stored in a folder in your hard drive.
If someone were to update the file on their computer and delete a section of text you later want to recover, the backup file is also updated. You can’t go back to an earlier version to retrieve the deleted data.
Files and folders can also be deleted accidentally. When a file is deleted on a computer, the sync file is deleted as well. If the original file is infected with malware, the backup file is also infected by malware.
A solid data backup solution includes storing images of your files with a date and time stamp. That way you can retrieve lost data from an hour ago, a day, a week, a month or years. You can decide how many revisions on a document you keep.
Unless your business has a dedicated leased line offering incredibly high speeds, you’ll find very few broadband connections can backup data effectively for business purposes. They are fine for uploading photos, video and music files for personal use providing the file is not too heavy. You may know from personal experience how long it takes to upload a video file to the internet.
Typical Internet upload speeds are insufficient because the current infrastructure of most low-cost broadband internet providers cannot handle a huge amount of data transfer, the combined requirements of running your office, your VOIP Phone system and the backup just isn’t visible. Even the fastest broadband using fibre optic cables are found wanting.
Backup systems rely on encryption, compression and uploading files to backup servers. To minimise data loss, the transfer of data between servers needs to be ultra-fast and completed as often as possible.
Typical upload speeds range from around 90 seconds per 1GB of data to 27 minutes to 1 GB. Even if you backed up data every hour, you would lose a huge chunk of work if you suffered a power outage.
To give you an example, let’s say your business generates 5 TB of data to store a day. 5 TB is 5000 gigabytes. If you have a standard broadband connection that uploads 1 GB of data every 2 minutes, you would only backup 30 GB an hour, and around 720 GB every 24 hours. Standard broadband connections would take an entire working week and more to back up a day’s worth of data even if that’s all the had to do, but with everyone else using the connection for VPN’s, Voice and work the time taken could be double or quadrupled and lead to all kinds of problems.
Whilst low-cost internet-based data backup solutions do have some use in a very small business with minimal data and infrastructure, the options outlined above are more likely to cost most businesses more money in the event of a serious data loss.
What does a Solid Data Backup System Look Like?
A solid data backup system requires an upfront investment but a disaster recovery plan will save a lot of time and money than recreating data to rebuild your business will.
What’s more, data backup services with IT solution providers enable you to manage your accounts with convenience and cost-effective monthly payments.
An effective data backup system and disaster recovery plan have a two-pronged approach; local backup on your business premises and cloud backup.
Local Data Storage
On-premises backup involves copying your data to a second hard drive or data server. This can be performed manually or at specified intervals.
Keeping a second, offline data storage facility can help your air-gap backup system and prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data. On-site storage can also give you easy access to data in the event of a system crash.
There are still vulnerabilities with this solution, however. Reports reveal there has been an increasing number of instances in which disgruntled or dishonest employees have stolen data for financial gain by means of fraud or selling data to competitors.
On-premise servers are also more expensive. They have limited storage space so you need to buy excess capacity to accommodate data growth together with the time and investment for maintenance and repair.
Cloud Storage and Cloud to Cloud Backup
The simplicity and speed of storing your production data in the cloud will enhance data protection and recovery automatically. Cloud storage updates every few seconds to minimise the impact of data loss in the event of a technical failure. It can also be easily replicated to another cloud provider along high speed back bones which leave your office broadband in the dust.
The downsides of backing up your local data to a cloud backup is that you have to rely on internet connectivity for the system to save data. As discussed above, the inadequate upload speeds of most broadband internet providers can take weeks, lead to frustrated users and due to a false sense of security and inability to every fully complete in a timely manner may result in a huge data loss.
The solution, to establish cloud based working or to get your local data safely backed up to the cloud is to work with an IT Support team that provides cloud migration services, or when required a reliable, unbeatable, ultra high speed leased line, providing your offices with connectivity that is as fast, stable and scalable as your business could ever need.
Best Practices for a Solid Data Backup System
Backup solutions can be flexible. You can choose to backup all of your data or just your most critical data. When deciding what your backup strategy should be create a plan the details the best practices.
1. Create a Backup Plan
What data needs to be backed up?
What data does not need saving?
Will you use local storage, remote storage or both?
How often should you backup data on local storage?
How often should you backup data on cloud storage?
Who is responsible for performing backups?
2. Personal device
How will files be backed up on personal devices employees use for work purposes?
What cybersecurity measures will you apply to smartphones, laptops and tablets? Patch management is recommended for securing non-company devices.
3. Prioritise Data
Large data transfers can slow down upload speeds. It’s recommended that you prioritise assets in relation to critical to non-critical.
4. Disaster Recovery Plan
How will you recover data in the event of a system crash or cyberattack?
If you lose internet connection, which files will your employees require to continue working?
Should you fall victim to a ransomware attack in which malicious actors demand a ransom before you regain access to your business network, do you have a backup solution that is independent of your ceased network?
5. Test Backup Software
To ensure your data backup system will be effective should you need to rely on it, intermittently test the software to ensure it has full read-back verification.
IT Support Solutions in London
When creating an effective and cost-efficient data backup system, you want to be assured you have access to a reliable IT Support team with the experience and expertise of creating and implementing backup solutions.
Most IT support services offer cloud backup, but you need to determine whether that is the right solution for you. If you do decide to outsource your IT, look for a provider that offers flexible solutions that takes a holistic approach and satisfies your business needs.
Experienced IT support teams will also provide advice and deliver solutions about network security including servers, not just your data. The level of cybersecurity is a critical feature to consider when working with an outsourced IT partner.
Also, discuss compliance issues with an outsourced team. If the service provider is not able to meet the regulatory requirements demanded of your business, the financial ramifications of a data breach or loss could be crippling.
The scalability of IT solutions should also enter the discussion of a solid data backup system. On-premise solutions have limited storage capacity and can be very expensive as your business grows.
Cloud backup solutions resolve the scalability issues but you may have concerns about how cloud service providers manage their hardware.
Speaking with an IT consultant will enable you to determine which solutions are available and help you devise an effective strategy that meets security, compliance and business continuity demands.
MicroPro is a proactive IT solutions provider in London, and also have offices in Surrey, Kent and Glasgow. Contact us today to discuss your data backup system and other IT solutions we can offer to ensure your business is secure and running smoothly.